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Redefining Agricultural Marketing

The Market News Room at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in February 1947. USDA Market News reporters have provided almost a century of insight for farmers and commodity trading.

The Market News Room at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in February 1947. USDA Market News reporters have provided almost a century of insight for farmers and commodity trading.

Over the years, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has changed and evolved to meet the regulatory, statutory and market demands of U.S. agriculture.  The agency’s role, its name and place within the structure of USDA have all evolved over the years.  What hasn’t changed is the commitment to helping U.S. farmers successfully compete domestically and worldwide.

The definition and scope of what marketing means for farms, businesses and communities has also evolved.

AMS has a long history of grading and certification services that not only set and enforce quality standards for the industry, but also give Americans confidence in the quality of the food they purchase.  This broadens that traditional marketing definition from an industry marketing device to a reliable consumer resource.

The Market News divisions have collected, analyzed and evaluated market data across all commodities since 1915—that’s almost a century of market research and evaluation provided equally to businesses and farms of all sizes.  The reports they compile and offer free of charge on a daily, weekly and annual basis may have changed format over the years, but they remain a cornerstone of U.S. commodity trading.  The pricing, quantity and trend information they gather is used by everyone from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to farmers wanting to competitively price their goods for their local farmers market.

Over the years, the scope of our regulatory and certification services has expanded in response to needs of farmers, processors and consumers.  The National Organic Program (NOP) has worked since 2002 to establish national and international certification standards for organic products.  This year, NOP re-examined their goals and strategies and held open forums for the organic community, with a focus on transparency and outreach.

The support for state and local projects from AMS has played a significant role in building stronger communities, making them more economically viable as well as increasing access to fresh healthy foods.  Grant programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) have had a wide impact.  AMS has helped with everything from connecting local farmers with new opportunities to supporting the culture and health of Native American communities.

As we look forward into the next 150 years of USDA, our goals and priorities will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the businesses, communities and industries that depend on our services.  Building on our existing programs and partnerships, we will continue to redefine the scope of marketing and increase agricultural business opportunities in the years to come.

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