USDA Restricts PACA Violators in CA and FL from Operating in the Produce Industry
- by Alexis Schreiber
WASHINGTON, DC - As part of its efforts to ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on five 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 Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
According to the USDA’s press release, these sanctions include suspension of the businesses’ PACA licenses, and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed businesses 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:
- Felix Farm Supermarket, operating out of West Covina, California, for failing to pay a $2,613 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Fei Fan was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business
- Unikorn, operating out of Riverside, California, for failing to pay a $10,091 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jorge Avalos and Evelyn Figueroa were listed as members of the business
- Simply Fresh Markets, operating out of Corona, California, for failing to pay a $38,097 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Abdulrazik Dean Taha, Omar Milbis and Hanni Abdulrazik Taha were listed as the officers, directors and/or major stockholders of the business
- I5 Fresh Produce, operating out of Oakland, California, for failing to pay a $13,073 award in favor of a Nevada seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Yahya Ahmed was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business
- Black Hog Farms Inc., operating out of East Palatka, Forida, for failing to pay a $14,772 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jonathan Insetta and Luke A. Watkins were listed as the officers, directors and/or major stockholders 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.