November 21, 2016

When in Doubt (or not), Call Me!

By: Tom Oliveri

In recent years, I have been writing my blog focusing on topics and solutions for our members, specifically for those individuals who participate on the sales desk and are dealing with the occasional day-to-day challenges of the produce industry. 

Regular members of Western Growers have the opportunity, and are encouraged as part of their membership, to contact WG Trade Practices & Commodity Services department (TPCS) to be educated about best practices, or anytime they find themselves in a situation where they are looking for guidance or coaching regarding a specific shipment of produce.

For instance, a phone or email inquiry might be submitted to me for interpreting the results of a USDA or CFIA inspection on your product, or review of a temperature recording tape or a TRU (smart unit) download. The TPCS department can assist you in a timely manner by evaluating whether or not your produce complied with the contract specifications at contract destination.

I encourage all WG regular members to take advantage of this service offered by the WG TPCS department, whether or not you utilize the guidance offered, it will provide you a baseline of how the situation could be ruled on by a USDA Judicial Officer if the matter would go to a Formal PACA Hearing.  We are pragmatic with our guidance and we want our members to know their rights and remedies with sales contracts so they can make informed business decisions with their customers and can therefore be in a better position when negotiating with your customer.

If by chance you do get into a dispute with one of your customers, the TPCS department can handle the filing and pursuing of either a PACA or DRC complaint from start to completion.

While the TPCS department may not always tell you what you want to hear about a particular shipment, we will give your our informed opinion based on PACA precedent decisions over the many years. 

I always joke with callers seeking advice, that no one contacts me when a shipment arrives with no problems; I only receive inquiries when there is a problem shipment. So let WG TPCS be your sounding board allowing you to understand your rights and remedies with problem shipments. Western Growers is only an email or phone call away and we react quickly to your concerns because we know a decision regarding the shipment needs attention immediately.

Most of the calls I receive from WG regular members only take a few minutes to discuss, whether it’s to review an inspection or any situation that could be problematic. Many of the shippers you know utilize WG TPCS, so if you’re a member don’t be shy, and remember there are no dumb questions. We are here to help you, your company, and ultimately your growers.

Calculating compliance with good delivery at contract destination can be complex at times. Western Growers regular members can utilize my services to review and help you interrupt your USDA inspections or provide help in fling PACA or DRC complaints. Please email me at with a copy of the USDA inspection certificate or call me at (949) 885-2269.