WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on four produce businesses for failing to meet contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). These sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from USDA.
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
- Whitney Foods Inc., operating out of Chicago, Ill., for failing to pay a $7,943 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Joseph Fitzgerald was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder of the business.
- Produce for Less Inc., operating out of Brooklyn, N.Y., for failing to pay a $34,640 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Aleksandr Gavrilov was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder of the business.
- CKF Produce Corp., operating out of Brooklyn, N.Y., for failing to pay a $415,066 award in favor of a New Jersey seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Koji Ueno was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder of the business.
- RR & Tequila Limes LLC, operating out of McAllen, Texas, for failing to pay a $13,010 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Victor Rivera was listed as a member of the business.
PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in USDA’s issuance of a reparation order 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.
By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace.
For more information, contact John Koller, Chief, Dispute Resolution Branch, at (202) 720-2890, by fax at (202) 690-2815, or PACAdispute@usda.gov.
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 3,625 PACA claims involving more than $104 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,600 callers with issues valued at approximately $166 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
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