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California company out of produce until 2021 for PACA violations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Sarita Ranch Provission Inc. in Los Angeles for failure to pay $756,913 to 16 sellers for produce which was purchased, received and accepted in interstate commerce from March 2017 through November 2017. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. 

As a result of these actions, Sarita Ranch Provission Inc. is prohibited from operating in the produce industry until Jan. 14, 2021, and then only after they apply for and are issued a new PACA license by USDA.

The company’s principal, Miguel S. Ortega, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Jan. 14, 2020, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.

USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period.  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 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 3,350 PACA claims involving more than $63 million.  PACA staff also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $156 million.