Release No.: 135-18
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Forest City Weingart Produce Co., Cleveland, Ohio, for failure to pay for produce.
USDA filed a complaint in November 2017 alleging that Forest City Weingart Produce Co. failed to pay $716,689 to 23 produce sellers from October 2014 to May 2017. The parties subsequently agreed to a Consent Decision and Order finding that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) by failing to pay $716,689 for produce purchases.
As a result of the violations, Forest City Weingart Produce Co. cannot operate in the produce industry until Sept. 21, 2020, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license. Furthermore, the company’s principals, Andrew J. Weingart and James B. Weingart, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Sept. 21, 2019, 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 PACA Division, which is in the Fair Trade Practices Program in the Agricultural Marketing Service, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For further information, contact Travis Hubbs, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, or by email at PACAInvestigations@ams.usda.gov.
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