AMS No. 248-12
Nadine Wilkins (202)720-8998
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on five 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:
--Empire Produce USA LLC, operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $20,400 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Motaz A. Hassan was listed as a member of the business.
--F & F Business Management Services Inc., operating out of Vernon, Calif., for failing to pay a $28,482 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Farshad Hedayati was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder of the business.
--Jeff Chapin, doing business as Mid-State Marketing, operating out of Paso Robles, Calif., for failing to pay a $17,248.02 award in favor of a Washington seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jeff Chapin was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
--Kenneth Shurte, doing business as Inspectors Choice, operating out of Payette, Idaho, for failing to pay an $18,032 award in favor of a Wisconsin seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Kenneth P. Shurte was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
--Portland Fruit Co Inc., operating out of Portland, Ore., for failing to pay a $30,504.85 award in favor of an Oregon seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Ronald L. Morrow 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 oversight of actions related to the PACA are conducted by AMS, an agency within the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
regarding this matter.
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