USDA Cites Valley Produce Corp. in Georgia for PACA Violations
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Valley Produce Corp., operating out of Jonesboro, Ga., for failure to pay for produce.
According to a press release, the company failed to pay $873,986 to 19 sellers for produce which was purchased, received and accepted in interstate commerce from August 2016 through October 2017. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, Valley Produce Corp. cannot operate in the produce industry until Oct. 1, 2020, at which time they may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principal, Mario A. Lazo Sr., may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Oct. 1, 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.