(UPDATED, 4:30 p.m., Aug. 14)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has suspended Joseph Mercurio Produce Corp.'s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act license.

UPDATED: USDA suspends Mercurio PACA license

Mercurio Produce’s owner, however, says the suspension isn't tied to the non-payment of a claim to a Florida shipper, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported.

In an Aug. 10 news release, the USDA cited Columbus, Ohio-based Mercurio Produce for failure to pay an $11,765 PACA reparation award to melon and vegetable shipper Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, Fla.

Joseph Mercurio declined to state the circumstances for the USDA action, but said it wasn’t related to the Southern Corporate Packers claim.

Mercurio said the company remains in business and on Aug. 14 said he was within 10 days of resolving the other issue.

Jimmie Turner, a USDA spokesman, on Aug. 14 said Mercurio has a valid, but suspended.

“As noted in the referenced press release, the company’s PACA license was suspended due to non-payment of the reparation order,” Turner said.

Turner said the PACA branch of the USDA has not received documentation that would verify the claim has been settled, and the license would remain suspended until that proof is shown.

Turner said the penalty for ignoring a PACA citation varies according to the type of violation and can result in further investigation, imposition of civil penalties, suspension or revocation of license or extension of employment and licensing restrictions.

Mercurio said the case had been satisfied in June and that he and his lawyer were working with Southern Corporate Packers’ lawyer to clear the record.