USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Florida, Michigan, and Texas from Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Maggie Mead
WASHINGTON, DC - As part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has restricted three produce businesses, imposing sanctions after each company failed to meet their contractual obligations to produce sellers and pay reparation awards issued under the PACA.
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:
- Farm Fresh Packers LLC, operating out of Pompano Beach, Florida, for failing to pay a $120,947 award in favor of a North Carolina seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Miranda M. Pfaff was listed as a member of the business. Another principal of the business at the time of the order was Jeff Pfaff. He has challenged his responsibly connected status.
- Ciaccio Produce Company LLC, operating out of Brighton, Michigan, for failing to pay a $29,447 award in favor of a Michigan seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Anthony S. Gelardi III was listed as a member of the business.
- Martinez Fresh Produce LLC, operating out of Dallas, Texas, for failing to pay a $24,669 award in favor of an Arizona seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Arturo Martinez Isguerra was listed as a member 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.
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