Global Agriculture

USDA issues a Packers and Stockyards Complaint against Lake Odessa Livestock Auction Inc. and Laverne Lettinga

02 August 2023, US: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an administrative complaint against Lake Odessa Livestock Auction Inc. (Lake Odessa) and its owner, Laverne Lettinga (Lettinga) of Lake Odessa, Mich., on July 24, 2023, for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.

An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) revealed that Lake Odessa and Lettinga failed to properly maintain its custodial account resulting in custodial shortages of $457,693 on Dec. 31, 2019, $432,070 on Jan. 31, 2020, and $390,512 on Feb. 28, 2020. The shortages were due, in part, to misuse and failure to deposit into the custodial account an amount equal to the proceeds received from the sale of consigned livestock.

A custodial account is a trust account designated for shippers’ proceeds from the sale of livestock in trust for sellers. Failure to reimburse the custodial account timely is a violation of the Packers & Stockyards Act and regulations.

The P&S Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assess civil penalties up to $33,896 per violation against any person after notice and opportunity for a hearing on the record. If the allegations are admitted or proven in an oral hearing, Lake Odessa and Lettinga may be ordered to cease and desist from violating the (P&S) Act and assessed a civil penalty.

The P&S Act is a fair trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.

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