The U.S. Department of Agriculture (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). 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:
- Stonehedge Produce Corp., operating out of Atlanta, Georgia, for failing to pay a $35,960 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Charles Jones was listed as the sole officer, director, and stockholder of the business.
- Bills Imported Foods, operating out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for failing to pay a $500 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Kiki Tirokomos was listed as the sole officer, director, and stockholder of the business.
- Rabab Awad, doing business as Awad International Trade, operating out of Chester, New York, for failing to pay an $8,213 award in favor of a Washington seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Rabab Awad was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in the 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.
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.
Click here for an overview of companies that previously violated PACA.