Specialty Crops Newsletter - November 2016

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Specialty Crops Newsletter

November 2016

Erin Morris, Acting Deputy Administrator (email)

Making an Impact

Welcome to the November issue of the AMS Specialty Crops Program (SCP) Newsletter. For several months to come, I will be acting in place of Chuck Parrott, SCP Deputy Administrator, while he assists the Agency prepare for the presidential transition. In this issue, I’m excited to detail several hot topics important to the specialty crops industry. You’ll be introduced to the staff focused on helping the produce industry by outlining new services, new resources, and valuable information.  

As the holiday season approaches, I wanted to share with you some interesting information about the products that AMS buys.  AMS purchases a variety of domestically produced and processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and other products through a competitive process among approved vendors. The wholesome, high quality products are delivered to schools, food banks, and households in communities across the country.  Different divisions of SCP, such as the Promotion & Economics Division (PED) and Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCID) play vital roles in helping the USDA provide quality products to our most valued customers: our schools and our children.

AMS buys a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts from you – about forty kinds in various tasty forms. In fiscal year 2016, we purchased over 1.4 billion pounds of product for over $864 million for the regular entitlement and bonus buy programs.  In keeping with the upcoming Thanksgiving season, here are some fun facts about the federal purchases… 

  • 1.4 million pounds of pumpkin products for $1.2 million          
  • 152 million pounds of apples & apple products for $70 million         
  • 57 million pounds of cranberry and cranberry products for $34 million
  • 51 million pounds of green beans for $22 million
  • 252 million pounds of potatoes for $46 million                                 
  • 19 million pounds of sweet potatoes for $5 million
  • 15 million pounds of walnuts for $31 million                                   

And to wash it all down, we purchased a lot of juice!

  • 79 million pounds of grape juice for $28 million
  • 91 million pounds of orange juice for $47 million
  • 20 million pounds of grapefruit juice for $7 million

I’m especially proud of the efforts of all SCP employees in serving the specialty crops industry, and look forward to the positive impact we’ll continue to make going into 2017!

In this issue of the SCP Newsletter, you’ll learn about new GAPs and FSMA training offered by the Produce Safety Alliance, a USDA partner. You'll also meet our new AMS Associate Administrator, and see how easy our customers and stakeholders get quick access to key information using GovDelivery.  

Getting Info and Answers When and Where You Need Them

Shayla Bailey, Acting Director, Public Affairs (email)

Information is crucial to any business. Whether you’re tracking market trends or following changes in rulemaking, getting the right information at the right time is essential to your success. At AMS, we are committed to providing key information to our customers and stakeholders. We value transparency and openness in our day to day operations and communication with our stakeholders. 

To make sure you have everything you need from AMS, we have taken a number of steps to make it easier for you to find or get information about our programs and services. Whether you’re trying to find information online, want to get updates via email, or have a question you want to ask on Twitter, AMS is making it easier for you to stay up to date on the programs and services you rely on.

Our new website features a one-stop-shop for all of our services, any forms you need, as well as our grades and standards. The site also gives you easy access to our regulations and rulemaking process, so you can understand the requirements you have to meet and comment on proposed rule changes. The site is also mobile friendly—giving you full access to our information on your phone, laptop, or tablet.  

From any page on the site, you can also sign up for email updates via our new GovDelivery subscription service to stay up to date on the topics that matter to you most. Simply click on the red envelope icon and enter your email, then select the topics you want to receive emails about. Everything from press releases and blogs to grade standards and rulemaking—you can have the latest information waiting in your inbox each day.

AMS is also reachable via social media. Through Twitter or Instagram, you can learn more about our services or ask questions about an issue. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible to talk to our team and get the information you need.

So, please, join our network of more than 70,000 subscribers by going to www.ams.usda.gov/subscribe and follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/USDA_AMS) and on Instagram (www.instagram.com/USDA_AMS).

We look forward to hearing from you!

AMS Welcomes New Leadership

Effective October 31, 2016 Bruce Summers will be AMS's new Associate Administrator.  Bruce brings a combination of deep institutional knowledge and willingness to think outside the box to solve problems, engage new stakeholders and strengthen AMS programs and services. Bruce has an extensive history with the USDA Specialty Crops Program, having led the PACA Division and serving as the Associate Deputy Administrator.  Elanor Starmer, AMS Administrator says, “I am confident Bruce will take on this new challenge with the same strategic, collaborative and committed spirit he has exhibited throughout his time in the agency, while pushing us to be the best we can be.”

Bruce holds a B.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland.  He may be reached at (202) 720-5115 or bruce.summers@ams.usda.gov.

“The Produce Safety Alliance --- A Public/Private Partnership for the Produce Industry

Jennifer Dougherty, Audit Programs Coordinator (email

SCP Representative to the PSA


Ken Petersen, Chief, Audit Services Branch (email

Specialty Crops Inspection Division


In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, which was the first major update to the Nation’s food safety regulations in decades. Under FSMA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was directed to implement regulations for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce. For the first time, producers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops would be covered by specific on-farm food safety regulations under the Produce Safety Rule.