As part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed an administrative complaint against Trinity Fresh Distribution LLC. The company, operating from California, allegedly failed to make payment promptly to 10 produce sellers in the amount of $3,898,506 from March 2018 through January 2019.
Trinity Fresh Distribution LLC will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry as a licensee for three years, or two years with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond. Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for two years, or one year with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.
The USDA has furthermore imposed sanctions on two 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 PACA. These sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business 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:
- Candymar Produce Inc., operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $1,920 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Candido Nieto and Maricela Diaz were listed as the officers, directors and/or major stockholders of the business.
- Itamp Inc., operating out of Dallas, Texas, for failing to pay an $11,640 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Luis Armando Lopez was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
Finally, USDA announced that PFI Express Inc. satisfied a reparation order in the amount of $57,638 issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) involving unpaid produce transaction(s).
The Valley Stream, N.Y., company can continue operating in the produce industry upon applying for and being issued a PACA license. Romilda Silva was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.
The PACA Division, which is a part of AMS’ Fair Trade Practices Program, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to the PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,800 callers with issues valued at approximately $148 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
Click here for an overview of companies who previously violated PACA.