USDA Extends Restrictions on Two Produce Businesses in Florida for Repeated PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on two produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
According to a press release, Stay Fresh Distributors Inc., operating out of Brooksville, Florida, continues to be restricted from operating in the produce industry for failing to pay a $25,228 award in favor of a New Mexico seller for unpaid invoices. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jason A. Canals was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder of the business. Three additional reparation orders were issued against Stay Fresh Distributors Inc. to pay an $8,440 award in favor of a California seller, a $5,523 award in favor of an Idaho seller, and a $13,888 award in favor of a South Carolina seller for unpaid invoices.
Seasons Best Produce Corporation, operating out of Lutz, Florida, continues to be restricted from operating in the produce industry for failing to pay a $16,440 award in favor of a North Carolina seller for unpaid invoices. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jason A. Canals was listed as the president of the business. One additional reparation order was issued against Seasons Best Produce Corporation to pay a $23,060 award in favor of a Michigan seller for unpaid invoices.
Neither Stay Fresh Distributors Inc. nor Seasons Best Produce Corporation have made payments to any of these sellers and, as a result, the sanction period against the two companies and its principal has been extended to reflect these new violations.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in a reparation order being issued that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. USDA is required to suspend the license or impose sanctions on an unlicensed business that fails to pay PACA reparations awarded against it as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business when the order is issued. 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.
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 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.