Release No.: 145-18
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Maria Soto, doing business as Mary’s Produce, satisfied a reparation order issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
The McAllen, Texas, company has met its obligations and is now free to operate in the produce industry. Maria Soto was listed as the sole owner of the firm and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.
PACA provides 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. USDA is required to impose sanctions on 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.
Once a reparation order is fully satisfied and it is confirmed that there are not any outstanding unpaid awards, USDA lifts the employment restrictions of the previously named responsibly connected individuals.
The PACA Division, which is part of USDA’s 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. Our 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 more information regarding this matter, contact John Koller, Chief, Dispute Resolution Branch, at (202) 720-2890, by fax at (202) 690-2815, or by email at PACAdispute@ams.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender
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