The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has 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 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:
- St. Louis Produce LLC of St. Charles, MO, for failing to pay a $44,886 award in favor of a Missouri seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Joshua A. Blassingame was listed as a member of the business.
- Sycamore Foods Inc. Of Scranton, PA for failing to pay a $31,108 award in favor of a New York seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Pavlos Vardinogiannis was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder 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 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.
Meanwhile, USDA announced that David Lopez, doing business as Texas Best Produce, satisfied a reparation order in the amount of $47,880 issued under PACA involving unpaid produce transactions.
The Helotes, TX company has met its obligations and is free to operate in the produce industry. David M. Lopez was listed as the sole proprietor of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.
The Fuentes Farms LLC has also satisfied a reparation order for $13,200 issued under PACA involving unpaid produce transactions.
The McAllen, TX company can continue operating in the industry upon applying for and being issued a PACA license. Gisela B. Munoz was listed as manager/member of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.
Once a reparation order is fully satisfied and it is confirmed there are not any outstanding unpaid awards, USDA lifts the employment restrictions of the previously named, responsibly connected individuals. USDA also requires any unlicensed company that fully satisfies all unpaid reparation awards to obtain a license if it continues to operate in the industry.
Click here for an overview of companies that previously violated PACA.