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Publications | January 27, 2022
2 minute read

Farmers and Agribusinesses: Protect Your Rights Under PACA

Warner Norcross + Judd has worked with farmers and agribusinesses in recent months to protect and enforce their rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The PACA facilitates fair trading practices in the marketing of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in interstate and foreign commerce. A major objective of the PACA program is to help ensure that dealers of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables get what they pay for and get paid for what they sell, including when their customers go out of business, declare bankruptcy or simply refuse to pay for the fruits and vegetables received.

If you have a problem receiving payment from a buyer or believe that you suffered damages resulting from unfair trading practices, you can submit an informal complaint to the PACA division of the USDA one of three ways:

    The complaint must be in writing and filed within nine months of the date the payment was due or the time that performance under the contract was required. The dispute must involve a contract for fresh or frozen fruits and/or vegetables as defined by the PACA, which involved transportation of the items in interstate and/or foreign commerce. The party against which you are making a claim must either be licensed by the PACA division or must be operating a business subject to the licensing provisions of the PACA. The complaining party will need to submit documentary evidence to establish that it suffered a monetary loss as a result of an action by the other party that violates the PACA. Evidence may include invoices, contracts, bills of lading, accountings or any other evidence showing the nature of the contract. The complaining party must submit a $100 filing fee with the informal complaint.
    If the informal complaint process does not result in the other party paying the amount owed, then the complaining party has the option of pursuing other remedies under the PACA, including filing a formal complaint.
    The administrative process under the PACA can present challenges. Warner is here to help farmers and agribusinesses involved with the sale of fresh or frozen fruits and/or vegetables navigate through the PACA process and to protect their rights.
    For more information on this and other matters impacting farming and agribusiness, please contact Chris Tracy or your Warner attorney.