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USDA restricts PACA violators in California, New York, Texas and Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on five 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. 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:

  • MT Produce Corp., operating out of Washington, DC, for failing to pay a $63,141 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Michael Thomas was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
  • Blanca Medina, doing business as Medina’s Vegetables, operating out of Los Angeles, for failing to pay a $55,465 award in favor of an Arizona seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Blanca Medina was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
  • David Lopez, doing business as Texas Best Produce, operating out of Helotes, TX, for failing to pay a $47,880 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, David M. Lopez was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
  • Acoca & Co. Inc., operating out of Brooklyn, NY, for failing to pay a $33,840 award in favor of a Massachusetts seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Lavi Hagay was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.
  • Sergio Ibarra, doing business as Triple G Produce, operating out of McAllen, TX, for failing to pay a $4,716 award in favor of a Texas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Sergio A. Ibarra was listed as the sole proprietor 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.

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.

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