USDA/AMS Press Release:
Release No.: 172-14
Contact: Nadine Wilkins, (202) 720-8998, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
–Twin City Produce of Springdale LLC, operating out of Springdale, Ark., for failing to pay a $7,778 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Travis F. Sharum was listed as a member of the business.
–Virginio Moreno, doing business as Freshpack Distribution, operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $129,324 award in favor of a Colorado seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Virginio R. Moreno was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
–Sun Belt Commodities Inc., operating out of Houston, Texas, for failing to pay a $10,158 award in favor of an Arizona seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, James C. Lai 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 Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses operating subject to PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry. All oversight of actions related to PACA are conducted by the AMS, an agency within USDA.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 4,600 claims filed under PACA involving more than $87 million. This is just one more way USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For more information, contact John Koller, Chief, Dispute Resolution Branch at (202) 720-2890, by fax at (202) 690-2815, or by email at PACAdispute@ams.usda.gov regarding this matter.