WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2021 –The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entered into a stipulation agreement with Marty L. Couch (Couch) of Jacksonville, Mo., on Aug. 17, 2021, for violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act. Under the terms of the stipulation agreement, Couch waived its rights to a hearing and paid a $1,000 civil penalty.
An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) revealed that between May 2018 through February 2020, Couch operated under the jurisdiction of the Act without a sufficient financial instrument. Couch continued to operate as an order buyer buying on commission with no financial instrument in place after his bond expired in September 2019.
The P&S Act requires that every market agency, packer and dealer must execute and maintain a bond applicable to the activity or activities in which the entity engages. Operating without an adequate bond or bond equivalent is a violation of the P&S Act.
The P&S Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assess civil penalties up to $29,270 per violation against any person after the notice and opportunity for hearing on the record. USDA may offer alleged violators the option of waiving their right to a hearing and enter into a stipulation agreement to quickly resolve alleged violations.
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 (202) 720-7051, or by email at Stuart.Frank@usda.gov.
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