WASHINGTON, July 15, 2020 – As part of its commitment to ensuring fair and competitive markets for the livestock, meat and poultry industries, on July 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a complaint against Amy Knight, doing business as Urbana Stockyards (Urbana Stockyards) of Urbana, Mo., for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.
An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service revealed that from May 1, 2017, through June 30, 2017, Urbana Stockyards failed to properly use and maintain their custodial account. In the complaint, USDA alleges that Urbana Stockyards failed to maintain its custodial account, resulting in custodial shortages of $115,749 on May 31, 2017, and $104,338.46 on June 30, 2017. The custodial account shortages were due, in part, to Urbana Stockyard’s misuse of custodial account funds by allowing bank fees to be charged to the custodial account.
A custodial account is a trust account designated for shippers’ proceeds from the sale of livestock in trust for sellers. Operating with custodial account shortages is a violation of the P&S Act and places livestock sellers at risk of not being paid promptly or at all.
The P&S Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assess civil penalties up to $28,061 per violation against any person after the notice and opportunity for hearing on the record. If the allegations are admitted or proven in an oral hearing, Urbana Stockyards may be ordered to cease and desist from continuing violations of the P&S Act and assessed a civil penalty.
The P&S Act is a fair-trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.
For further information about the Packers and Stockyards Act, contact Stuart Frank, Packers and Stockyards Division, at (515) 323-2586, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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