USDA Determines Individual Not Responsibly Connected to Arizona Violator

USDA/AMS Press Release – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that Oscar A. Lopez was not a responsibly connected member of Coram Deo Farms Inc., Tubac, Ariz.

Coram Deo Farms Inc. violated the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) by failing to pay a reparation award totaling $73,600 in April 2018. The USDA made an initial determination that Oscar A. Lopez was a responsibly connected member of the company. Oscar A. Lopez disputed the initial determination and the USDA subsequently determined that Oscar A. Lopez had separated from Coram Deo Farms Inc. before the reparation award was issued. Oscar A. Lopez may be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.

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 impose sanctions on a 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.

Once a reparation order is fully satisfied and it is confirmed that there are not any outstanding unpaid awards, USDA lifts the employment restrictions of the previously named responsibly connected individuals. USDA also requires any unlicensed company that fully satisfies all unpaid reparation awards to obtain a license if it continues to operate in the industry.

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 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.

For further information, contact Travis M. Hubbs, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, or by email at PACAInvestigations@ams.usda.gov.

Contact Info: Nadine Wilkins, nadine.wilkins@ams.usda.gov, 202-720-8998

Release No.: 108-18

For more PACA violations reported by Blue Book Services: #PACAViolations

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