USDA Restricts PACA Violators in California and Florida From Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Lilian Diep
WASHINGTON, DC - This morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has imposed sanctions on four produce businesses as part of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). Each company failed to meet their contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased product from, as well as failed to pay reparation awards issued under PACA. As a result, the below listed companies have had their PACA licenses suspended and are now barred from engaging in PACA-licensed business without approval from the USDA, according to a press release.
Direct from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- Academy Fruit Company LLC, operating out of Clovis, California, for failing to pay a $104,195 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jayson Paul Scarborough was listed a member or manager of the business.
- MLC Berries Inc., operating out of Los Angeles, California, for failing to pay a $39,099 award in favor of an Oregon seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Miguel Campos was listed as the officer, director, and/or major stockholder of the business.
- Old West Export Inc., operating out of Visalia, California, for failing to pay a $187,393 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Frances Murillo and Dave Muse were listed as the officers, directors, and/or major stockholders of the business.
- Peerless Enterprises Inc., operating out of Gainesville, Florida, for failing to pay a $6,440 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Eric Pleiman 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 3,500 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, contacts, and to read the full press release, please click here.