USDA Cites The Produce Connection Inc. For Over $1 Million in Debt

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Miami’s The Produce Connection Inc. for failure to pay for produce.

The company failed to pay for a lot of produce, owing $1,657,473 to 55 sellers for produce it purchased and received from June 2015 through January 2017, according to a USDA press release.

Due to this, The Produce Connection Inc. cannot operate in the produce industry until August 5th, 2020. The company was in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and will not be able to reapply for a PACA license until the August 2020 date.

Company principals Bruce S. Fishbein and Morris E. Corbitt III cannot be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Aug. 5, 2019 and according to the USDA, only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.

USDA Sanctions Four Produce Business for PACA Violations

The Produce Connection Inc. services companies in South Florida

The Produce Connection Inc. is a produce exporter that exports internationally, most frequently to Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The company also services hotels, resorts, country clubs and restaurants in South Florida.

The USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful and repeated 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.

According to the USDA, in the past 3 years, they have resolved approximately 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. The PACA staff also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million.

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.