USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Florida and Texas from Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
WASHINGTON, DC - Three produce businesses operating out of Florida and Texas were recently cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to meet contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards amounting to $192,447 issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The USDA has imposed sanctions, which 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.
Direct From the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- DGR Sales LLC, operating out of Lehigh Acres, Fla., for failing to pay a $150,064 award in favor of a Georgia seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Damon Trawick was listed as a manager of the business
- Simple & Fresh Produce Corporation, operating out of Miami, Fla., for failing to pay an $11,843 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Juan M. Almeida, Jr., was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business
- Rhino Brokerage LLC, operating out of Schertz, Texas, for failing to pay a $30,540 award in favor of an Arkansas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Diana I. Mayo and Brandon Brown were listed as members and managers 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.
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 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 3,625 PACA claims involving more than $104 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,600 callers with issues valued at approximately $166 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For more information, and to read the release in its entirety, click here.