(UPDATED COVERAGE 2 p.m. March 18) A south Florida bell pepper grower has filed for bankruptcy owing creditors millions of dollars.
The amount of produce debts, however, remains uncertain.
DuBois & Son LLC, Boynton Beach, Fla., which formerly operated under DuBois Farms Inc., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 11.
According to court documents, the family-run company owes creditors of all types $27.3 million and lists assets of $672,000, but an attorney representing DuBois & Son said the debts aren’t covered by the Perishables Agricultural Commodities Act.
Court documents also show Dubois owes $573,000 to a number of produce companies, including Rosemont Farms Corp., Boca Raton, Fla., and J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla.
Robert Furr, a lawyer representing DuBois, said suppliers such as fertilizer and chemical companies and banks represent most of the creditors.
He said a $1 million lien by the Internal Revenue Service could prevent those unsecured creditors from being repaid.
Furr said the DuBois operation experienced four to five bad years plagued by weather and price problems and the September death of the company’s leader, Robert “Bobby” DuBois Sr., after a long fight with an illness.
“All of that combined just killed the company,” Furr said. “They were originally going to do a Chapter 11 filing but the debt is so huge it wasn’t possible to do.”
Robert M. DuBois, managing member, is listed as debtor in the court documents.
Lesley Chubick, a ratings manager with Lenexa, Kan.-based Red Book Credit Services, said little information is available on the DuBois case and likely won’t be available until a meeting of creditors scheduled for April 13 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Vance Publishing Corp., Lincolnshire, Ill., owner of The Packer also owns RBCS.
Creditors have until July to file claims.
Known for its innovations in bell pepper growing, DuBois Farms was at one time considered one of the largest U.S. pepper growers. The operation had up to 1,600 acres of peppers and 1,000 acres of cucumbers.
The DuBois brothers began farming in Florida in 1934 after relocating from Oklahoma.