( File photo )

North Carolina sweet potato grower-shipper Wayne Bailey Produce Co LLC, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September and closed after 85 years this spring, left creditors with more than $8.1 million in unpaid debt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA named Wayne Bailey Inc. and Wayne Bailey Produce in a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act complaint on June 20. According to the complaint, the former sweet potato companies allegedly left 46 sellers of produce with $8,182,415 in unpaid bills.

The companies can request a hearing with the USDA. If the agency determines they “committed repeated and flagrant” violations of the PACA, the principals in the company will be barred from working with PACA licensees for three years (two with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond).

In April, Jackson Farming, Autryville, N.C., announced it had taken over Chadbourn, N.C.-based Wayne Bailey Produce, and would be serving its customers. Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The USDA did not list the former principals of Wayne Bailey Inc./Produce. George Wooten, who joined Wayne Bailey Produce in 1977 and became its president in 1991, did not transfer to Jackson Farming as a part of the deal.

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