East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc. of Florida has filed a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the Middle District Court of Florida. According to the Murray Wise and Associates web site, the local assets of the former major tomato grower on the Eastern Shore will be auctioned off on today August 19 and Tuesday August 20.
The company's local assets include 31 properties totaling 3220 acres in various areas of the Eastern Shore. The assets of the company include two luxury homes at Bay Creek in Cape Charles, a colonial style home South of Painter and a home on Marsh Island near Chincoteague. The real estate includes major parcels formerly operated by Byrd Foods. It also includes packing facilities in Mappsville, Hallwood, and Tasley.
The company owned by the Madionia Family of Mulburry, Florida stopped producing tomatoes in December of 2012. At that time the company owed more than $15 million in judgments and liens to state and federal governments and crop production services.
The auction for the houses is scheduled for today. The farmland and farming facilities are scheduled to be auctioned at 1 PM Tuesday August 20 at the Exmore Moose Lodge.
According to various news reports the reasons for the bankruptcy included an outbreak of salmonella poisoning that affected tomato consumption, competition from imported tomatoes, freezes in Florida in 2010 and 2011 and damage to company assets from Hurricane Irene in 2011.
The bankruptcy filing stated that the company has liabilities of $50 to $100 million and assets of $50 to $100 million.
East Coast Brokers and Packers was once a major tomato producer on the Eastern Shore.