Specialty Crops Program Newsletter - January 2021

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USDA AMS Specialty Crops Program Newsletter - January 2021

A Message to Our Industry Partners

SCP Moves Beyond COVID-19 Barriers to Lead the Agricultural Industry Forward! 

Sonia Jimenez, Deputy Administrator, Specialty Crops Programs



USDA's AMS Specialty Crops Program (SCP) adapts its operating methods to overcome challenges COVID-19 places in the path of the agricultural industry. As we embrace the promise the year 2021 brings, SCP is stepping up in a variety of ways, including:

  • The publication of the Final Rule for the Domestic Production of Hemp culminates work initiated following the Dec 2018 Farm Bill. The work covered three comment periods and a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers.
  • Our Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) continues partnering with the AMS Commodity Procurement Program as the USDA launches Round 5 of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program 
  • 2021 has been named the International Year of Fruits & Vegetables by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. AMS Market News is helping lead the charge in this noble cause. 
  • Specialty Crops Market News is providing the industry with a new report detailing seasonal imports from Canada & Mexico that will vary seasonally following importing cycles and crop cycles.
  • SCP's Promotion & Economic Division (PED) is excited to announce the creation of the Pecan Promotion, Research and Information Order

COVID-19 challenges all of us to develop creative ways to conduct the agricultural industry’s business. Please help us help you moving forward in 2021. I encourage you to work with us in continuing to drive the agricultural industry forward. Contact any SCP employee who may assist your efforts!

USDA Publishes Final Rule for the Domestic Production of Hemp

Hemp Production Logo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021.

Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations. Additional background information is available here.

AMS’s Hemp Production webpage provides more information on the provisions of the final rule. 

Review the Federal Register Notice Here!

USDA Releases Round 5 of Farmers to Families Food Box Contracts

Farmers to Families Food Box

SCP's Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) plays an integral role in the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program. On January 4, USDA announced the contract awards for Round 5 of the effort, for deliveries through the end of April. In total, USDA has distributed more than 133 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the food box program is coordinated through the AMS Commodity Procurement Program, SCI plays a vital role in this effort by providing inspection and audit services to the industry.  The solicitation was issued to over 240 organizations that have previously received Basic Ordering Agreements (BOA). Deliveries began shortly after awards were issued and continue with option periods through the end of April. Additional BOA proposals were not reviewed nor accepted at this time.

A direct link to the Round 5 Approved Contractors is listed here. For an overview of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, review the most current update here.

For More Background Information on Round 5, Click Here

 The United Nations Declares 2021 as the International Year of Fruits & Vegetables

    Terry Long, Director, Specialty Crops Market News Division

Terry Long

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Qu Dongyu, launched the International Year of Fruits & Vegetables on December 15, 2020 with an appeal to improve healthy and sustainable food production through innovation and technology and to reduce food loss and waste. 

AMS Market News is serving as the Chair of the Market Information Organization of the Americas (MIOA), and in that role is leading the information institutions of the nations of the Americas in improving the transparency of the agricultural markets; most notably, those for fresh fruits and vegetables.  MIOA is a hemispheric network of cooperation that is working to enhance the timely and consistent exchange of reliable market information to the benefit of all of the participating member countries. MIOA actively promotes the concept that timely and reliable information on our food markets is a critical public good for all countries, and helps support efforts to stabilize markets and enhance access for the public to fresh produce in the nations of the Americas.

View a great video describing this exciting effort, and visit their website to learn more!  

Discover More Now!

USDA Establishes Weekly Report Highlighting Seasonable and Perishable Product Trends

Review Our Easy-to-Read Description of Current Market Trends on Key Imported Specialty Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created a new data report, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement Seasonal Perishable Products Weekly Update, prepared in close partnership with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce). The weekly report is based on data provided by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its Specialty Crops Market News Division.

This report will help federal agencies overseeing the supply chain understand import trends for seasonal and perishable products as we work to address industry concerns. Transportation brokers, carriers, news organizations and industry analysts are some of the agricultural industry members experiencing an immediate impact from this new data report. Early results from the industry are very positive. 

This new report was first issued in December 2020, combining information published by AMS Market News. The commodities highlighted each week will vary seasonally and will change to follow importing seasons and crop cycles. On September 1, 2020, USTR, Commerce and USDA issued a joint report on Seasonal and Perishable Products in U.S. Commerce which highlighted the need for a near-real time market report to provide USTR, Commerce and the public with the volume and prices for selected seasonal and perishable commodities.