The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited McAllen Produce LLC and Charles Jeffrey Edwards, Weslaco, Texas, for failure to pay for produce.
USDA filed a complaint in May 2017 alleging that McAllen Produce LLC, while under the direction and control of Brenda E. Edwards and Charles Jeffrey Edwards, failed to pay $405,527 to 14 produce sellers from December 2014 to December 2015.
The parties subsequently agreed to a Consent Decision and Order finding that McAllen Produce LLC and Charles Jeffrey Edwards committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) by failing to pay $405,527 to 14 produce sellers from December 2014 to December 2015. The parties further agreed to dismiss the case against Brenda E. Edwards.
As a result of the violations, McAllen Produce LLC and Charles Jeffrey Edwards are not eligible to apply for a PACA license until Sept. 21, 2020. Furthermore, Charles Jeffrey Edwards and the company’s principal officer of record, Lori J. Edwards, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Sept. 21, 2019, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond. The company’s sole shareholder, DJJJ Trust, may not be affiliated with any PACA licensee until Sept. 21, 2019, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.
USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated, and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period. 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 3,400 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.
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