Stephen P. McCarron
Louis W. Diess, III
Mary Jean Fassett
Kate Ellis
Blake Surbey
Gregory Brown

Stephen P. McCarron

Steve McCarron became knowledgeable about the PACA as a staff attorney with the Office of the General Counsel of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), PACA Division. During that time, Steve acted as Presiding Officer in adjudicating disputes between buyers and sellers of produce.   

Since 1982, Steve has concentrated full-time on PACA cases, representing produce companies in all segments of the produce industry, including growers, shippers, brokers, terminal market receivers, retailers, exporters and importers - from every major shipping and receiving point in the nation, in hundreds of cases before USDA and the federal courts. For many years, Steve has maintained the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell of AV, which ranked him as "A" (very high to preeminent) in Legal Ability, and "V" (very high) as a General Recommendation.

Steve has also been involved in many legislative and regulatory changes under the PACA since the early 1980s. In 1995, he was an advisor to the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, which spearheaded the 1995 amendments to the PACA before Congress and USDA. In 1999, Steve was appointed to United's Hunts Point Task Force overseeing industry's response to Operation Forbidden Fruit. He also was a legal consultant to the trinational group that developed the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC), an organization under the auspices of NAFTA dedicated to resolving produce disputes between produce companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Steve assisted in preparing the By-Laws and Rules of Mediation and Arbitration for the DRC. He has also been appointed as an arbitrator to resolve disputes under the DRC.

In 1995, Steve authored a book on the PACA, which was published by the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, entitled, “A User's Guide To The New PACA,” to assist produce businesses in understanding and doing business under the PACA. He completed a second revision to this guide in 1998 entitled, “A User's Guide to the PACA.” Steve has also authored a bi-monthly op-ed column for the national produce industry newspaper, The Packer, under the title "PACA Perspectives". These columns discuss current topics under the PACA.

In 2009, the PACA Advisory Committee requested PACA remedy the problem of losing PACA trust rights by agreeing to payment plans after a default.  This was a difficult problem for the industry based on a number of court decisions ruling such agreements nullified trust rights.  Steve then submitted to USDA a legal analysis and proposed change to the PACA regulations so that PACA trust suppliers would not lose their trust rights by agreeing to payment plans.  In 2010, USDA published a proposed rule, which did not effectively remedy the problem.  Steve then worked closely with an industry task force (the PACA Trust Working Group) formed by United Fresh, to submit comments and revised regulatory language.  This resulted in a final regulation issued in 2011, assuring that PACA trust rights would not be lost if there was a payment plan. 

In 2012, Steve authored a PACA Web Guide (, which provides a fully searchable and easy-to-understand description of the parts of PACA, and how they work, in non-legal language, with links to other PACA resources.

Steve was admitted to the state and federal bars of Maryland and the District of Columbia in 1979. He is also admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and several U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.

Reported Cases: Taylor v. USDA, 629 F.3d 241 (D.C. Cir. 2011); Nickey Gregory Company, LLC v. AgriCap, LLC, 597 F.3d 591 (4th Cir. 2010);  Coosemans Specialties, Inc. v. Dep't of Agric., 482 F.3d 560 (D.C. Cir. 2007; H.C. MacClaren, Inc. v. USDA, 342 F.3d 584 (6th Cir. 2003);  Overton Distribs. v. Heritage Bank, 340 F.3d 361 (6th Cir. Tenn. 2003); Royal Foods v. RJR Holdings, 252 F.3d 1102 (9th Cir. 2001); In re Old Fashioned Enters., Inc., 236 F.3d 422 (8th Cir. 2001); In re Magic Restaurants, Inc., 205 F.3d 108 (3d Cir. 2000); In re Country Harvest Buffet Restaurants, Inc., 245 B.R. 650 (9th Cir. BAP 2000); Norinsberg v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., 162 F.3d 1194 (D.C. Cir. 1998); In re Kelly Food Products, Inc., 204 B.R. 18 (Bankr. C.D. Ill 1997); In re Kornblum & Co., Inc., 81 F.3d 280 (2nd Cir. 1996); John J. Conforti, d/b/a C & C Produce v. U.S.A., 74 F. 3d 838 (8th Cir. 1996); Bell v. U.S.D.A., 39 F.3d 1199 (D.C. Cir. 1994); Consumers Produce Co., Inc. v. Volante Wholesale Produce, Inc., 16 F.3d 1374 (3d Cir. 1994); In re Lombardo Fruit & Produce Co., 12 F.3d 806, (8th Cir. 1994); Sanzone-Palmisano Company v. M. Seaman Enterprises, Inc., 986 F.2d 1010 (6th Cir. 1993); Six L's Packing Co. v. West Des Moines State Bank, 967 F.2d 256 (8th Cir. 1992); Frio Ice, S.A. v. SunFruit, Inc., 918 F.2d 154 (11th Cir. 1990); Harry Klein Produce Corp. v. U.S.D.A., 831 F.2d 403 (2d Cir. 1987); G & T Terminal Packing v. Joe Phillips, Inc., 798 F.2d 579 (2d Cir. 1986); Stowe Potato Sales, Inc. v. Terry's Inc., 224 B.R. 329 (W.D. Va. 1998); In re Richmond Produce, 112 B.R. 364 (N.D.Cal. 1990); DeBruyn Produce Company v. Olympia Produce Co., Inc., 734 F.Supp. 483 (N.D.Ga. 1989); Willoughby Farms v. Frito-Lay, 863 F.2d 1029 (D.C. Cir. 1988); DeBruyn Produce Co. v. Victor Foods Inc., 674 F.Supp. 1405 (E.D.Mo. 1987).

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