USDA cites Packers and Stockyards Act, produce violators

Two divisions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited violators within its livestock and produce inspection services over the past month in the High Plains Journal coverage area.

Violations and penalties were announced via news releases by USDA.

Among the actions the Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the Packers and Stockyards Act, took:

• Settled a complaint against Bruce D. Camenzind, who was doing business as Clarence E. Camenzind Funnel Trust, BK Farms and Dixon Ranch (Camenzind), of Blair, Nebraska. In a consent decision Bruce Camenzind agreed to cease and desist for violating the Packers and Stockyards Act and he was to suspend dealer activities from Oct. 6 through Nov. 4, 2018.

• Camenzind was found to have failed to pay $25,853 and failed to pay when due for livestock purchases on 12 occasions from April to July 2017. Camenzind also issued insufficient funds totaling $55,487 for livestock purchases.

• He was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $15,000, which could be paid in two installments with the last one due Dec. 1. He agreed to a three-year probationary period from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2021. Failure to comply could result in an additional suspension and civil penalty.

• Settled a case with Erath County Dairy Sales Inc., Dublin, Texas, in which the dairy operation entered into a stipulation agreement with USDA and paid a $2,500 penalty. The AMS investigation revealed custodial account shortages of $60,648 on May 31, 2017, and $48,736 on June 30, 2017. A custodial account is a trust account that is a separate bank account designated for shippers’ proceeds.

• Settled a case against Cattleman’s Brenham Livestock Auction, Brenham, Texas, in which the firm paid a $3,000 penalty. The AMS found a custodial account shortages of $29,428.82 on June 30, 2017, and $3,674.33 on July 31, 2017.

• Issued a complaint against John B. McGraw, Marshall, Missouri, in which the AMS alleges McGraw, a registered livestock dealer, engaged in what it deemed as unfair and deceptive practices by generating or causing to be generated purchase invoices with false information involving livestock in violation of the act. If the allegations are admitted or proven in an oral hearing, McGraw may be ordered to cease and desist, be suspended from operating as a livestock dealer and/or face a civil penalty.

The USDA also took actions for violations of Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, which oversees produce. Actions included:

• Cited McAllen Produce LLC and Charles Jeffery Edwards, Weslaco, Texas, for failure to pay $405,527 to 14 producers from December 2014 to December 2015 in a complaint filed in May 2017 against McAllen Produce while under the direction and control of Brenda E. Edwards and Charles Jeffrey Edwards. The parties agreed to a consent decision and order finding that McAllen Produce LLC and Charles Jeffrey Edwards committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The parties agreed to dismiss the case against Brenda E. Edwards. As a result of the violations McAllen Producers LLC and Charles Jeffrey Edwards are not eligible to apply for a PACA license until Sept. 21, 2020; furthermore, Charles Jeffrey Edwards and the company’s principal officer of record, Lori J. Edwards, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA license until Sept. 21, 2019, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond. The company’s sole shareholder, DJJJ Trust, may not be affiliated with any PACA licensee until Sept. 21, 2019, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.

• Announced that Maria Soto, doing business as Mary’s Produce, satisfied a reparation order as the McAllen, Texas, company has met its obligations and is free to operate in the produce industry. Maria Soto was listed as the sole owner of the firm and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].