USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Florida, New York, and Texas from Operating in the Produce Industry
WASHINGTON, DC - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is continuing its efforts to ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry. In doing so, it has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses operating in Florida, New York, and Texas for failing to meet their contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The total combined reparations awards amounted to $85,544.
Direct from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:
These sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from USDA. By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace.
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- Lua Produce Corp., operating out of Opalocka, Fla., for failing to pay a $39,613 award in favor of an Alabama seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Luis A. Burbano was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
- Mr. G. International Produce, Inc., operating out of Bronx, N.Y., for failing to pay a $29,475 award in favor of a New Jersey seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jose A. Gomez was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
- Bucks Fresh Produce LLC, operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $16,456 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Christopher Torres and Diana D. Torres were listed as members of the business.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in USDA’s issuance of a reparation order 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 3,500 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.
For more information and to read the press release in its entirety, please visit the link here.