USDA Cites Versa Marketing Inc. in California for PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently imposed sanctions on Versa Marketing Inc. (d.b.a. Versa), in Fresno, California, for failing to meet its contractual obligations to the sellers of produce it purchased. 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:
Versa failed to pay $792,939 to three sellers for produce that was purchased, received, and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from February 2018 to August 2018. This is in violation of the PACA. Versa cannot operate in the produce industry until April 23, 2022, and then only after it applies for and is issued a new PACA license by the USDA.
The company’s principal, Alfred Goularte, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until April 23, 2021, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.
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 a part of AMS’ Fair Trade Practices Program, 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, the 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 the USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For more information and to read the press release in its entirety, please visit the link here.