USDA Hotline Helps the Fruit & Vegetable Industry Understand What Makes a “Good Delivery”

Did you know there is a free service offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) that has resulted in an estimated savings of more than $140 million to the produce industry in the past three years?

If not, Jose (Tony) Velasquez, a Senior Marketing Specialist with AMS’s Specialty Crops Program (SCP) wants to give you the facts about the “Good Delivery” Hotline. Good Delivery is the term used in F.O.B. sales to describe goods that were shipped in suitable condition and should arrive at the contracted destination without abnormal deterioration. The hotline is a free service offered by SCP’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Division.

Velasquez, an 11-year employee with USDA, works at PACA’s Central Region office and is one of several marketing specialists who staff the hotline and accept calls from anyone in the fruit and vegetable industry Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. They provide the industry real-time, direct contact with a subject-matter expert on Good Delivery, contract and PACA trust issues.

Velasquez said the variety of calls handled by the hotline is tremendous. He said a typical question is, “Am I being paid a reasonable price for produce with this many problems?”  Others include, “Does this product make Good Delivery or not?” or “Is my customer a valid PACA licensee or not?”  He said that, possibly, the most common question is “I know the company is out of business but may I still file my informal complaint now?” 

The hotline has fielded tens of thousands of calls since 2008 and has been used about 200 times a month, on average, from 2013 to 2016, according to Velasquez.  He said many calls end up being the initial step for filing complaint activity with PACA.  “What a caller may think is a good delivery issue may actually be grounds for an action through PACA’s dispute resolution process,” Velasquez said. He recommended that the online form is a great place to start when filing an informal complaint.

PACA welcomes all fruit and vegetable industry members to call the “Good Delivery” Hotline at 1-800-495-7222, option #2, where help is only a phone call away.