USDA Cites The Produce Connection Inc. in Miami for PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited The Produce Connection Inc., operating out of Miami, Florida, for failure to pay for produce.
According to a press release, the company failed to pay $1,657,473 to 55 sellers for produce which was purchased, received and accepted in interstate commerce from June 2015 through January 2017. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, The Produce Connection Inc. cannot operate in the produce industry until August 5, 2020, at which time they may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principals, Bruce S. Fishbein and Morris E. Corbitt III, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until August 5, 2019, 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.
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.