PACA ensures produce companies follow fair dealing rules by requiring produce companies obtain a license to do business. Violations of PACA result in penalties, such as loss of license and employment restrictions. The system is similar to licensing drivers.
PACA also provides unique rules for collecting undisputed debts, resolving disputes, and contracting to buy or sell produce.
The PACA Division
The law is enforced by the PACA Division, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The PACA Division has three (3) branches in Washington, DC – Licensing, Investigative Enforcement, and Dispute Resolution. There are also three (3) regional offices outside of DC: the Western regional office in Tucson, AZ, the Central regional office in Fort Worth, TX, and the Eastern regional office in Manassas, VA.
Each PACA regional office is staffed with persons available to answer questions about the law and contract disputes. These persons also investigate violations of the law.
The PACA Division is assisted by government attorneys who: decide contract disputes; represent PACA in enforcement proceedings; and advise the PACA Division on legal issues.
PACA AND PRODUCE INDUSTRY WEBSITES
The PACA Division has an informative website. The site contains a complete version of the PACA law and regulations, as well as contact information, including e-mail addresses, for the DC and regional offices.
Some topics discussed in this WebGuide are also addressed at PACA’s website, such as licensing, trust protection and dispute resolution. There are also useful forms and information on PACA’s website which include: license forms; forms for filing reparation complaints; bond forms; good delivery guidelines; a 50 page list of commodities covered under PACA; and a good article on the creation and workings of the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).
Other websites contain useful information about dispute resolution and the produce industry. These are the websites of the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC), United Fresh Produce Association, Blue Book, Red Book, Produce Marketing Association, The Packer, and The Produce News.