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USDA Restricts Three PACA Violators in California and Florida from Operating in

AMS No. 254-12


Nadine Wilkins (202) 720-8998


WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failure 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:


--Robert Starkweather, doing business as Star Farms, operating out of Immokalee, Fla., for failing to pay a $124,777.40 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Robert D. Starkweather was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.


--Platinum Growers Inc., operating out of Canyon Lake, Calif., for failing to pay a $13,237.40 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Brian K. Douglas, Megan Douglas and William R. Rosier were listed as the officers, directors, and major stockholders of the business.


--Terra Produce Connection Corp., operating out of Miami, Fla., for failing to pay a $44,572.75 award in favor of a Canadian seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Virnalisi Velez was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder of the business.


PACA provides for an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions. This may result in a reparation order being issued that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. The USDA is required to suspend the license of a 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 Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses operating subject to the PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry. All PACA oversight actions are conducted by AMS, an agency within USDA.


In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 5,000 claims filed under the PACA involving almost $96 million. This is just one more way USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.


For more information, contact John Koller, Chief, Dispute Resolution Branch at (202) 720-2890, by fax at (202) 690-2815, or by email at disputeresolutionsection@ams.usda.gov regarding this matter.


Get the latest Agricultural Marketing Service news at http://www.ams.usda.gov/news or follow us on Twitter @USDA_AMS. You can also read about us on the USDA blog.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


 
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  Last Modified Date: 11/28/2012