USDA Restricts PACA Violators in California and New York from Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Kayla Webb
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 imposed sanctions on four produce businesses for failing to meet their contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the PACA. 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.
According to a press release, the following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- Custom Fresh Cuts Inc., operating out of Long Beach, California, for failing to pay a $32,358 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Alejandro Mora and Richard Wise were listed as the officers, directors and/or major stockholders of the business.
- RRD Produce Co., operating out of Los Angeles, California, for failing to pay a $19,407 award in favor of an Arizona seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Ricardo Villalobos and Raul Gomez were listed as the officers, directors and/or major stockholders of the business.
- Nam Lam, doing business as G & N Produce Co., operating out of Oakland, California, for failing to pay an $8,062 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Nam Lam was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
- CKF Produce Corp., operating out of Brooklyn, New York, for failing to pay a $4,999 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Koji Ueno was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder 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 3,350 PACA claims involving more than $63 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $156 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.