The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited J&R Fresh Produce LLC, operating out of Tampa, FL for failure to pay for produce. The infractions carry a two-year ban from the industry for those involved.
The company failed to pay $281,225 to seven sellers for 30 lots of produce which was purchased, received and accepted in interstate commerce from August 2015 through June 2016. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, J&R Fresh Produce LLC cannot operate in the produce industry until Jan. 10, 2020, at which time they may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principal, Shaheed Ackbar, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Jan. 10, 2019, 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 part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.