Release No.: 002-16
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- Green Tree International Inc., operating out of Dinuba, Calif., for failing to pay a $31,711 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Cary D. Crum was listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder of the business.
- Hunt Potato Co. Inc., operating out of Faribault, Minn., for failing to pay a $14,421 award in favor of a Wisconsin seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Mark E. Hunt and Gordon P. Hunt were listed as the officer, director, and major stockholder of the business.
- Sevan Bakery Inc., operating out of Northridge, Calif., for failing to pay a $4,998 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Hovsep Avakian, Shant H. Avakian, and Armenag H. Avakian were listed as the officers, directors, and/or major stockholders of the business.
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 suspend the license or impose sanctions on an unlicensed 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.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses operating subject to PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry. All oversight of actions related to PACA are conducted by AMS, an agency within USDA.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Our experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For more information, 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 regarding this matter.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
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