The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on four 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:
- Phillips Produce LLC, operating out of Plant City, Fla., for failing to pay a $133,094 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.
- Peisel Markets LLC, operating out of Madison, N.J., for failing to pay a $315,901 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Allen Peisel was listed as a member of the business.
- G&M Import Produce LLC, operating out of Bronx, N.Y., for failing to pay a $36,448 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Gil A. Fernandez was listed as a member of the business.
- Integrity Produce LLC, operating out of Tieton, Wash., for failing to pay a $3,729 award in favor of a Washington seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Nenita A. Denton and Carl A. Denton were listed as members 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.