WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached a consent decision against Michael Austin Hand (Hand) of Ocilla, Ga., on November. 6, 2020, for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.
An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) revealed that from July 14, 2015, to December . 20, 2017, Hand purchased livestock in the amount of $106,901at two auction markets and failed to pay the markets for $95,080 of that amount. On four dates from November through December 2017, Hand failed to pay timely for livestock purchases totaling $50,844. The investigation also revealed that Hand issued five checks for livestock purchases totaling $142,767 without sufficient funds in its bank account to support the payment of those checks.
The P&S Act requires subject entities to issue full payment for livestock by the close of the first business day following purchase and transfer of possession. Failure to timely pay for livestock purchases and issuing financial instruments without sufficient funds for purchases is an unfair trade practice and a violation of the P&S Act.
Hand was operating while he was insolvent. As of December. 11, 2017, Hand’s current liabilities exceeded his current assets by $61,797. As of January. 16, 2018, his current liabilities exceeded his current assets by $60,025.
Hand also failed to maintain records regarding his accounts payable, such as issued and voided checks, a properly maintained check register, or amounts still owed for livestock. He did not track amounts owed to him for livestock, nor did he properly complete deposit slips showing amounts received in payment for livestock. Hand also failed to keep records concerning his inventory of dealer livestock for resale.
Under the consent decision, Hand was ordered to cease and desist from failing to pay the full amount of the purchase price for livestock within the required time period, issuing insufficient funds checks for livestock, operating while insolvent, and failing to keep and maintain adequate records. AMS suspended Hand’s registration and ordered him to not operate in any capacity subject to the P&S Act for a period of 14 days.
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 Jeana Harbison, Packers and Stockyards Division, at (202) 720-7051, or by email at Jeana.M.Harbison@usda.gov.