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USDA cites California company for $3.8M PACA violations

paca artAs a part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on Trinity Fresh Distribution LLC in Sacramento, CA, for failing to meet its contractual obligations to the sellers of produce it purchased.

Trinity Fresh failed to pay $3.899 million to 10 sellers for produce that was purchased, received and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from March 2018 to January 2019. This is in violation of the PACA. Trinity Fresh cannot operate in the produce industry until June 3, 2022, and then only after it applies for and is issued a new PACA license by USDA.

The company’s principal, Paul Abess, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until June 3, 2021, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.

These sanctions include barring the business and the principal operators of the business from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from USDA. 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.

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.

In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,800 callers with issues valued at approximately $148 million.

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