USDA Cites First Fruits Holdings LLC d/b/a Four Rivers Onion Packing in North Carolina for PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has imposed sanctions against Wake Forest, North Carolina-based First Fruits Holdings LLC, doing business as Four Rivers Onion Packing. The company has been cited for violating the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) by failing to pay $363,070 to five sellers, resulting in sanctions that include barring the business and principal operators from engaging in PACA-Licensed business or activities without USDA approval.
Direct from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:
The produce was purchased, received, and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from November 2016 to July 2018. The failure to pay is in violation of the PACA. First Fruits cannot operate in the produce industry until October 26, 2022, and then only after it applies for and is issued a new PACA license by USDA.
The company’s principals, John Fowler, Mark Black, and Sean Swanson, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until October 26, 2021, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.
USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period. Those individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, members, managers, officers, directors, or major stockholders may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA approval.
By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace.
The PACA Division, which is in the Fair Trade Practices Program in the Agricultural Marketing Service, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry. In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,625 PACA claims involving more than $104 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,600 callers with issues valued at approximately $166 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For more information, and to read the release in its entirety, click here.