Exceptional grading, standardization and auditing services are the benchmarks that were set by USDA’s Fresh and Processed Products Divisions. The two organizations within USDA supported the produce industry for nearly a century, providing quality grading and auditing services that businesses and consumers could trust.
Now, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has merged the two divisions into one unit that provides the same excellent service. The new Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division offers voluntary, audit-based inspection programs – utilizing Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP). We will also perform uniform, quality grading services based on the U.S. standards for fresh, frozen and processed products.
The new division is part of USDA’s continued effort to operate as efficiently as possible to remain a good value to its customers. Through the merger, we were able to combine several administrative functions and systems such as billing, finance, certification, training, quality management and customer service. This reduced redundancy without losing functionality.
In the future, all grading and auditing employees will be cross-trained so they can conduct inspections of both fresh and processed products. By sharing knowledge throughout our workforce like this, the new division will be more agile and responsive to our customers’ needs. All of our changes are designed to capitalize on the strengths that existed in both branches and will allow us to provide improved service to the country’s produce growers, producers and consumers.
The SCI Division is a great example of USDA’s commitment to strengthening the safety of our country’s food supply, supporting American businesses and helping ensure the quality of foods available for consumers.