(Jan. 5, 2:50 p.m.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act administrative action against a south Florida berry importer and grower.

The USDA alleges that Weston, Fla.-based Fresh Harvest International Inc. committed PACA violations for failing to repay $655,285 for 318 lots of produce that the company distributed June 2007 through September 2007.

Fresh Harvest can request a hearing on the issue, according to a USDA news release. If the USDA finds the company guilty of the allegations, the USDA could prohibit the company from working in the produce industry for two years. The company’s officers could be prevented from being employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for one year and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

Fresh Harvest, according to its Web site, imports and ships berries from Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere growing regions. It also handles Southern Hemisphere tropical fruit, baby vegetables and specialty vegetables.