Specialty Crops Newsletter

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Specialty Crops Newsletter

October 2017

Deputy Administrator Sonia Jimenez

Sonia Jimenez
Deputy Administrator 

The strength of the Specialty Crops Program (SCP) has long been our outstanding employees and our strong relationships with the industry we serve. As SCP’s new Deputy Administrator, I am honored to be part of the SCP team and to serve you, our stakeholders.  USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced many organizational changes across the Department that will further USDA’s service to American agriculture.  The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is now home to the former Grain, Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).  For SCP, this change will result in the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Division moving to new AMS fair trade practices program.  Improvements like this will provide a unified USDA presence for our customers and the services we provide them. 

SCP’s mission remains providing competitive, efficient, and transparent marketing of specialty crops to help buyers and sellers of all sizes in the U.S. produce industry.  To remain of value to you, we know that we must evolve to reflect your changing needs.  Our Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division has been providing USDA quality assurance and food safety services to the entire specialty crops industry for 100 years.  Of course, there have been many changes to our fresh and processed product services since 1917, and we are now seeking to map our course for the upcoming years.  At the United Fresh Public Policy Conference in September, we announced that we are setting up a Fresh Produce Industry Inspection Working Group that will engage our customers to help us provide the most relevant, valuable, and cost-effective services to meet the specialty crops industry’s marketing needs.   Take a look at the article in this newsletter on how you can take part in the Working Group.

Also in this issue, you’ll learn how SCP’s Market News and inspection services responded during this hurricane season, and how SCP is using new technology to provide you with quick, digital access to the Specialty Crops Market News National Retail Report.  

AMS staff will be at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit, October 19-21, 2017, in New Orleans.  Please stop by room #344 on Friday, October 20 from 1-4 p.m. to visit with me and SCI Division personnel; and stop by our booth #5957 any time during the show to visit with us.  

Help Shape the Way AMS Meets the Evolving Needs of the Produce Industry

Grocery produce

Christopher Purdy
Associate Deputy Administrator

If you’re ready to talk about how AMS can continue to improve its service to you for the future, AMS is listening!

Industry leaders suggested AMS should form a working group to discuss how we can improve our fresh produce terminal market inspection services to provide you the best customer service possible.  So, that is what we are doing: we are forming the Fresh Produce Industry Inspection Working Group and looking for volunteers to give us input about how we can strengthen our service offerings and business processes to meet current and future market needs. Let’s discuss business challenges, solicit ideas and generate recommendations.

Learn More

SCP’s Specialty Crops Inspection Services & SC Market News Answers The Call

Hurricane Irma satellite image

Dana Stewart 
Specialty Crops inspection Division 

As recovery from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma progresses, the AMS Specialty Crops Program (SCP) continues to review its “first-response” activities to ensure we are ready to effectively respond to future disaster relief efforts.  In the aftermath of the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, SCP quickly brought food safety inspection services and market news information up-to-speed almost immediately. 

“Our team was ready and rose to the challenge.  While addressing the dire needs of their own families and neighbors, they returned to flooded offices and duty stations to serve our customers. As a division, we identified and deployed additional resources to the affected areas to ensure continued service delivery,” Lorenzo A. Tribbett, Director, Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division, said of the determination and dedication of SCI team members who were impacted by the storms.  

Learn More

Broaden Your Market View - Dive into the Specialty Crops Market News National Retail Report

Melissa Reeves
National Retail Manager, Specialty Crops Market News                                
Terry Long 
Director, Specialty Crops Market News                                      

Excerpt is reprinted with permission from Blueprints Magazine, July 2017

How do retailers set their produce prices? Is there a way to know if stores will have specific items on special? Is there somewhere that shows all these specials in one place, with a price distribution list of produce items?   Could a produce shipper capitalize on having this type of information?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crops Market News service provides this information to the public regularly through reporters who track over 400 supermarket chains with more than 30,000 individual stores.

The National Retail Report – Specialty Crops is published weekly, giving buyers, sellers, and consumers access to the same information at the same time. Retail reporting completes the “third leg of the stool” for Market News, as the agency also tracks major wholesale terminal markets, and markets at shipping point for a wide range of specialty crops.