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USDA bans leading Florida importer

Importer-exporter falls foul of US law governing payments to suppliers, following investigation by government's AMS agency

USDA bans leading Florida importer

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Florida European Import Export, a leading importer, exporter and distributor of premium speciality produce based in Miami, US, has been banned from operating in the fresh produce business until June 2016 after apparently failing to pay several creditors.

According to a statement released by the US Department of Agriculture, the company failed to pay US$383,991 owed to a total of nine sellers for 139 lots of produce.

“This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA),” the statement said. “As a result of these actions, Florida European Export Import Co Inc cannot operate in the produce industry until June 2, 2016, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license. The company’s principals at the time of the violation are now deceased.”

The company imports fresh fruit and vegetables such as asparagus, avocados, berries, limes, mangoes and sweet potatoes from countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Peru and Argentina.

The PACA division of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service regulates the fair trading practices of produce companies operating subject to the act – including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.

The USDA said it was authorised to suspend or revoke a company’s license for violations of PACA.

In the past three years, the department has resolved approximately 4,600 claims filed under the act involving more than US$87m.

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