Specialty Crops Newsletter

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Specialty Crops Newsletter

February 2018

Deputy Administrator Sonia Jimenez

Our Doors are Open to You!

Sonia Jimenez
Deputy Administrator, Specialty Crops Program 

Through my visits and discussions with our customers, other produce industry stakeholders and our staff, one thing is clear to me: the specialty crops industry is exceptionally committed to getting the freshest and highest quality fruits, vegetables, nuts and other specialty crops from the field to consumers tables and other customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Our Specialty Crops Program (SCP) shares that same commitment, and over the years, we have developed and refined services to help growers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers and others in the marketing chain do just that. The USDA's inspection, grading and auditing service, Specialty Crops Market News, marketing orders, and research and promotion programs support your goals by providing buyers and sellers alike with the data, tools and services they need to grow domestic and international markets.

The produce industry is incredibly complex.  You offer hundreds of different commodities to the consumer in a multitude of forms.  Through meetings, conversations, and other engagements in the coming months, I look forward to hearing about your unique business challenges and how our services and tools can help meet your customer’s needs.  At the same time, I want to hear what is not working for you.  If there is a need to update, change or eliminate a programs or service, I want to hear that too.  I want this to be a partnership of constant communication.   

This issue of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) “Specialty Crops Program Newsletter,” focuses on multiple ways we are working to adapt our services to meet your evolving needs and some of our current programs that can help you build markets. 

We are proud to serve you and our doors are always open to you!

Defining a Second Century of Service

Chris Purdy

Christopher Purdy
Associate Deputy Administrator, Specialty Crops Program

AMS has been providing on-demand, user-fee funded inspection and grading services to the specialty crops industry since 1917.  For over 100 years, we have adapted and improved our services, introducing new offerings to meet evolving market needs.  Entering our second century of service, we are committed to ensuring that our improvement process remains dynamic and robust.  We are carrying out our continuous improvement process with the recognition that we, like you, must be as efficient as possible to ensure our cost-effectiveness to our customers.  With these goals in mind, we are examining how we can best enhance our services to meet your evolving needs. 

Share Your Ideas 

Helping You Sell Over 29 Billion Pounds of Fresh Produce Yearly, Federal Marketing Orders and USDA Inspections

Peter Wood, Abigail Campos, & Jen Dougherty

Marketing orders and agreements are industry-driven programs that help fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop producers and handlers achieve marketing success.  Working together, industry members leverage their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually.  Each marketing order program is tailored to address the needs of its specific industry.

Learn More

Research & Promotion Board Appointments

images of R&P board commodities

We oversee 22 research and promotion (R&P) boards that empower farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses. Every R&P program’s mission is to maintain and expand the markets for its commodity. The past few months, Secretary Perdue has announced new appointments to serve on the following Specialty Crops boards:

Be a voice for your industry by serving on a Research & Promotion Program board.

Learn More 

Marketing New Plant Varieties by Protecting Plant Breeder’s Innovations!

Melissa Tharp

Melissa Tharp
Acting Deputy Administrator, Science & Technology Program

Are you interested in a USDA program providing an important marketing tool for plant breeders?  The AMS Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) provides intellectual property rights protection to breeders of varieties of seeds and tuber (potatoes) propagated plants that are new, distinct, uniform, and stable.  Once plant variety protection is granted, the variety owner has exclusive legal rights to market and sell their varieties, while excluding others from selling this new variety.  This legal protection promotes the development of new varieties that can increase yield and crop productivity, increase farmer’s income, expand trade and promote economic growth.

AMS identified a clear opportunity to improve the customer experience and adopt a new technology to automate PVP applications.  In October, 2017 the PVPO launched a system that lets customers Apply for PVP electronically.  The new system provides an efficient, secure way to file new plant variety protection applications and pay fees electronically. It features application filing with supporting data and analysis and can accept high-resolution photographs.  For current customers, the new electronic application system will make it easier to check the status of an application or amend an existing application.

For more information about the PVPO and the benefits of protecting your plant varieties visit the Plant Variety Protection page or contact us at pvpomail@ams.usda.gov