Release No.: 105-13 Contact:
Nadine Wilkins (202) 720-8998
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Superior Tomato-Avocado Ltd., of San Antonio, Texas, for failure to pay for produce.
The company failed to pay $1,514,272 to 49 sellers for 965 lots of produce. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, Superior Tomato-Avocado Ltd. cannot operate in the produce industry until May 20, 2015, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principals, STA Management LLC and Walter S. Jensen, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until May 20, 2014, 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.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce companies operating subject to PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry. USDA is authorized to suspend or revoke a company’s license for violations of PACA. All oversight of actions related to PACA are conducted by AMS, an agency within USDA.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 5,000 claims filed under PACA involving $96 million. This is just one more way USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For further information, contact Josephine E. Jenkins, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, by fax at (202) 720-8868, or by email at InvestigativeEnforcement@ams.usda.gov
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