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USDA files action against Florida, Minnesota and New York operators

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed an administrative complaint against Central Market of FL II Inc. for alleged violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The company, operating from Sarasota, FL, allegedly failed to make payment promptly to eight produce sellers in the amount of $150,383 from November 2019 through May 2020.

Central Market of FL II 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 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/affiliated with any PACA licensee for two years, or one year with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

For more information, contact Corey Elliott, chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch.

Two companies cited
The USDA has also imposed sanctions on two produce businesses for failing to meet contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under 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.

The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:

  • J & J Distributing Co. of St. Paul, MN for failing to pay a $19,655 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, New Harvest Foods Inc. and Jason Jaynes were listed as the officers, directors and major stockholders of the business.
  • Produce Depot USA LLC of Bronx, NY for failing to pay a $42,540 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Gaetano Balzano was listed as member and/or manager of the business.

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 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.

By issuing these penalties, USDA continues enforcing the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers/buyers.

For more information, contact John Koller, chief, Dispute Resolution Branch.

Click here for an overview of companies who previously violated PACA.

Corey Elliott
Tel: +1 (202) 720-6873 

John Koller
Tel: +1 (202) 720-2890 

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