The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative complaint against Fresh Produce Inc. for alleged violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The company, operating from Texas, allegedly failed to make payment promptly to 15 produce sellers in the amount of $374,069 from May 2018 through August 2019.
Fresh Produce Inc. 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.
Furthermore, the USDA has determined that Jimmy W. Hutton is not responsibly connected to Cal Tex Produce L.P., Dallas, Texas. This is an update to the press release issued on May 29, 2020.
Cal Tex Produce L.P. violated the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) by failing to pay a reparation award in the amount of $8,030 in February 2020. As a result, USDA imposed sanctions on the business, including requiring that all principals may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA approval.
USDA made an initial determination that Jimmy W. Hutton was responsibly connected to Cal Tex Produce L.P. and subject to sanction. Jimmy W. Hutton contested this initial determination and USDA has now determined that Jimmy W. Hutton was not responsibly connected to Cal Tex Produce L.P. at the time of the violation.
As a result, Jimmy W. Hutton may 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.