Jan 2022 SCP Industry Newsletter

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united states department of agriculture
agriculture marketing service
specialty crops

USDA AMS Specialty Crops Program Newsletter - January 2022

A Message to Our Industry Partners

Specialty Crops Program Starts Transition 

Jeffrey Davis, Business Development, Specialty Crops Programs

Ken Petersen

As we enter the 2022 calendar year, the USDA  AMS Specialty Crops Program (SCP) is excited to announce our transitionary leadership team moving forward. With the well-deserved retirement of SCP Deputy Administrator Sonia Jimenez, SCP Associate Deputy Administrator Ken Petersen will temporarily step into the role for a few months.  In the spring, SCP Associate Deputy Administrator Heather Pichelman will move into the position while a permanent selection for the position is made.

All SCP divisions continue offering their quality services throughout the transition, while expanding other existing capabilities. The SCI Division's rollout of SCION continues to be a huge success for the industry, while the GAP audit programs meet emerging industry needs.  Specialty Crop Market News services are the industry standard, and the Marketing Development Division merger of the former MOAD & PED divisions is complete.

This issue of the SCP Industry Newsletter highlights areas of interest for the agricultural industry coming soon! The 98th Annual USDA Ag Forum is virtual this year with everything you need to know in agricultural for 2022.  Find great information about the American Pecan Promotion Board.  The AMS Commodity Procurement Program is rolling out fantastic business opportunities for every sector of the industry.  Finally, learn how you may benefit from farmers markets deep into the winter season while supporting local communities by buying local! 

Learn How to Pay Your Assessments with the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB)


Last year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued the Pecan Promotion, Research, and Information Order, creating the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB).  APPB’s purpose is to strengthen the position of pecans in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for pecans, and develop new uses for pecans. The program is financed by a mandatory assessment on domestic producers and importers of pecans.  Some additional background on the APPB is found here.

At 1PM (EST) on February 1, 2022 the SCP's Marketing Development Division (MDD) will be hosting a webinar titled, "How to Pay Your Assessments with the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB).  The purpose of this webinar is to explain the assessment collection and provide a walk-through of the required forms and information. The public is welcome to join live and participate in the Q&A section. A recording of this webinar will be provided on the AMS website in the days following the live event.

Click Here to Register

New Year, New Opportunities to Sell to USDA

Christopher Purdy, Associate Deputy Administrator 

USDA AMS Commodity Procurement Program

Christopher Purdy

A new year brings new opportunities for fruit and vegetable producers, distributors, and farmers within the AMS Commodity Procurement Program (CPP). Whether your company is already a qualified vendor and actively bidding or you are unsure if CPP and the world of government contracting would be the right fit for your company, here are a few helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Small Business Set-Asides: CPP strives to support American agriculture and small businesses by establishing small business set-asides for its acquisitions. When at least two small businesses have capacity to provide products, a portion of a contract is made exclusive or “set aside” for small businesses. A contract may be a 100% small business set aside or a partial set aside, depending on the capacity of the vendors. CPP also has small business set asides for socioeconomic categories such as Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs), Historically Underutilized Business Zone Small Businesses (HUBZones), and Woman Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs).
  • Procurement Schedule: An often overlooked but useful tool is our “AMS CPP Procurement Schedule.” The AMS CPP Procurement Schedule lists the products, pack sizes, and contracting specialist for the product that CPP intends to purchase for the calendar year along with an estimated timeframe for when bids will be announced, contracts are awarded, and deliveries are to be made on those contracts. Afraid you missed a bid? Not sure if CPP purchases your product? Just check the AMS CPP Procurement Schedule!
  • Quarterly Webinars: As mentioned in a previous article, CPP will be hosting quarterly webinars. The first webinar will be focused on lessons learned in becoming an approved USDA food vendor. The webinar will be February 15 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. Please register for the webinar here.  
  • Industry Meetings: In addition to our quarterly webinars, CPP will be hosting a virtual industry meeting with our contractors and interested suppliers to discuss the commodity purchase programs, tentatively scheduled for March 1-3 with an invitation to follow to register. Due to COVID-19 , this annual meeting had been cancelled over the past few years. CPP is excited to resurrect their industry meeting virtually to share new information and continue to collaborate with suppliers and stakeholders to improve CPP.
Business Opportunity

Register Here for the Quarterly Webinar on February 15th

Join Us for the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum

2022 Ag Outlook Forum logo


The USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF) is USDA’s oldest and largest annual event, currently in its 98th year. The 2022 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF) will be held as a free, virtual event on February 24-25, 2022.  The two-day event is one of the agricultural sector’s premiere events.  Each year, the Forum attracts participants from the Government, the private sector, stakeholder associations, producers, academia, and the media. The 2022 event will be virtual and free for the second time. This is an opportunity for many USDA employees and stakeholders all over the country to attend the Forum without travel costs or fees. The 2021 AOF was the first virtual Forum and drew nearly 4,500 attendees from 50 States and over 100 countries. We expect over 5,000 participants in the 2022 Forum.

This year’s theme is New Paths to Sustainability and Productivity Growth and will focus on the central role of innovation in ensuring sustainability in agriculture while increasing productivity.  During the Forum, USDA will announce the initial forecasts for the 2022 agricultural economy and trade, and the U.S. farm income situation.

The program includes a fireside chat with the Secretary about China, as well as a plenary session with distinguished guests from the private sector and academia titled Growing Market Opportunities for Climate Smart, Sustainable Agriculture Systems.

The Forum program will also include 30 breakout sessions covering six key areas:

- Climate mitigation and adaptation

- Frontiers in agricultural innovation and production

- U.S. agricultural trade and global markets

- Commodity outlooks

- Supply chain resilience

- Equity and inclusion

Each breakout session is 90 minutes, with a 60-minute panel presentation and a 30-minute Q&A for both general audiences and reporters. The moderator will screen questions for the virtual Q&A.

For the first time, the program will include a session on rural mental health.  New this year will be “lightning talks” by 8-10 speakers about innovations designed to achieve sustainability and productivity.  (Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m.)

Don’t miss this great opportunity about the agricultural sector for everyone in the industry. Registration is free but required to attend the Forum.  Register here today! 

Farmers Market pic

Five Tips for Shopping at a Winter Farmer's Market

Instead of waiting until late spring or summer to get fresh produce and to support local producers, why not keep going to markets in the winter? Winter market season is here! Farmer’s markets are a place where you can find fresh produce, local goods, and enjoy community spirit during all seasons. the USDA  AMS Transportation & Marketing Program hosts a great Farmers Market website year-round.  When you make your trip during these winter months, here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  1. Understand What’s in Season. Make sure you understand what’s in season so you have the right expectations.
  2. Prepare for the Weather. Dress for the weather and check the market social media pages before you go in case of inclement weather. 
  3. Buy More than Produce. While there is an abundance of produce at the market, you can also get fresh cuts of meats, eggs, juices, flowers and so much more.
  4. Ask Questions. Farmers, growers, and makers love to educate their customers about what they do. 
  5. Do a Walk-Through First. Before you start buying, walk through the entire market to see what’s available and compare prices.

Visit a winter market near you to pick up local winter produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, wines, and much more! Winter markets also feature special holiday craft booths for those who wish to do some shopping. Check out a market near you, and thanks for buying local!