USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Florida and Texas from Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Jessica Donnel
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on two produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
According to a press release, the following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- The Big Red Barn LLC, operating out of Riverview, Florida, for failing to pay a $13,545 award in favor of a Minnesota seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Christopher Phillips was listed as a member of the business.
- Lunas Produce & Trucking Inc., operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $19,460 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Gabriel A. Luna was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in a reparation order being issued 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.