The USDA has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failing to meet contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing 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:
- New Start Produce of Los Angeles, CA for failing to pay $44,890 in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Carmen Puente and Lucia Vargas Bodart were listed as officers, directors, and/or major stockholders.
- Linda Mar Imports Incorporated of Medley, Fl, for failing to pay $17,198 in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Maria Nunez was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder.
- OM Vegetable Inc. of Hicksville, NY for failing to pay $17,518 in favor of a New Jersey seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Amandeep Singh was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in USDA’s issuance of a reparation order 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 USDA has also determined that Stephen Press, Sharon Press, and Francis Manzo are not responsibly connected at the time of violation to Farmer Jacks Produce LLC, operating out of Middlesex, N.J. This is an update to this press release. Stephen Press, Sharon Press, and Francis Manzo may be employed by/affiliated with any PACA licensee.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also filed an administrative complaint against Rain Forest Produce Inc. for alleged violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The California company allegedly failed to make payment promptly to 33 produce sellers in the amount of $1,576,260 from October 2018 through February 2020.
Rain Forest 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.
Click here for an overview of companies who previously violated PACA.