As part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative complaint against B & B Organics Inc. The company, operating from Indiana, allegedly failed to make payment promptly to 23 produce sellers in the amount of $1,038,238 from June 2017 through April 2019.
B & B Organics 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.
USDA has also imposed sanctions on Coram Deo Farms Inc. (Coram Deo), Tubac, Ariz., for failing to meet its contractual obligations to the sellers of produce it purchased. These sanctions include barring the business and the principal operators of the business 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.
Coram Deo failed to pay $221,564 to four sellers for produce that was purchased, received and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from July 2017 to March 2018. This is in violation of the PACA. Coram Deo cannot operate in the produce industry until April 7, 2022, and then only after they apply for and are issued a new PACA license by USDA.
The company’s principals, Adrian Pryor and Oscar Lopez, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until April 7, 2021, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.
USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period. 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.
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.