USDA Cites Huxtable’s Kitchen Inc. in California for PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on Huxtable’s Kitchen—based in Vernon, California—as part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry. Huxtable's failed to meet its contractual obligations to its six sellers by not paying for the produce it purchased in the sum of $551,829. These sanctions include barring the business and the principal operators of the business from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from the USDA. By issuing these penalties, the USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace.
Direct from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:
Huxtable’s failed to pay $551,829 to six sellers for produce that was purchased, received, and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from October 2015 to May 2016. This is in violation of the PACA. Huxtable’s cannot operate in the produce industry until July 15, 2021, and then only after it applies for and are issued a new PACA license by USDA.
The company’s principals, Perry Morgan, Jay Pack, and Huxtable’s Kitchen Holding Corp., may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until July 15, 2020, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond. Another principal of the business at the time of the order was Lewis Macleod. He has challenged his responsibly connected status.
The 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.
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 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,800 callers with issues valued at approximately $148 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
To read the USDA’s press release in its entirety, click here.