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Posts tagged: AMS

Strengthening Produce Businesses, One Program at a Time

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

Successful businesses all seem to have a common bond – a commitment to quality, consistency, and integrity. During a recent trip with my colleagues, I saw firsthand the many ways that companies are turning to my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – to provide these factors to pave their path to success.

Our first stop was the packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC in Palmetto, Fla. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. The fascinating thing about West Coast Tomato LLC is that the facility is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. “Our use of technology has significantly decreased our re-packing,” says plant director John Darling. “As a result, we’re better equipped to meet buyer requirements.” Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Minnie Lou Bradley

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. This week is cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. This week is cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. Last week, we kicked off the series with Agriculture Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo. This week, we caught up with cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

Minnie Lou Bradley, now a sprightly 83, always had a passion for agriculture. Growing up in southwestern Oklahoma, Minnie was the first woman to major in animal husbandry from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in 1949.  In 1955, Minnie Lou Bradley moved to the Texas Panhandle to found Bradley 3 Ranch with her husband Billy. For decades, Minnie’s vision has catapulted Bradley 3 Ranch into a leader and award-winning ranch for land management and genetic beef breeding. Minnie herself has lassoed a herd of accolades, including being the first female President of the American Angus Association, an inductee into the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery and has received recognition as one of the nation’s top 50 U.S. Beef Industry Leaders by BEEF magazine. Read more »

Expanding Trade Opportunities by Translating Documents into Spanish

Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

When trading commodities on the market, it is critical that buyers and sellers across the supply chain speak the same trade language.  For meat products, large volume buyers – ranging from the federal government to schools, restaurants and hotels – reference the U.S. Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) when making their purchases.

For the first time, the IMPS and poultry and turkey trade descriptions, which are maintained by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), have been translated into Spanish.  These documents are part of a continued effort to expand the use of meat specifications used in the United States, Canada and Mexico for trade.  You can also find French translations of these documents through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Anne Alonzo

Agriculture is our future. Let’s lead it! -- Anne Alonzo, Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Agriculture is our future. Let’s lead it! -- Anne Alonzo, Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are taking a moment to talk with prominent women in agriculture about their lives, their ideas about leadership, and how their day gets off to a good start.

“The women I know (and work with) are strong, decisive and “take charge” women,” says Anne Alonzo. Anne Alonzo is the Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. She is a respected global leader who has forged a successful career in the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors, including significant experience in trade and diplomacy.  She has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law.  Although she grew up as a city kid, Anne’s experiences have given her a deep appreciation for agriculture. Read more »

Small Start-Up Brings Big Change for Philly Communities

The Common Market team, led by founders Haile Johnston (far left in red shirt) and Tatiana Garcia-Granados (far right in orange sweater), brings food into Philly communities by connecting Mid-Atlantic farmers with wholesale customers. Photo courtesy Common Market.

The Common Market team, led by founders Haile Johnston (far left in red shirt) and Tatiana Garcia-Granados (far right in orange sweater), brings food into Philly communities by connecting Mid-Atlantic farmers with wholesale customers. Photo courtesy Common Market.

It all started with one truck—one truck and the idea that bringing fresh, healthy foods into Philly communities was just a question of coordination.  For Haile Johnston and his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, founding Common Market was the logical solution to solve the food access issues they saw in the communities around them.

“The core of Common Market is selling to schools and hospitals,” said Johnston. “Historically, they have been the hardest institutions to reach. They serve the most vulnerable population. That’s why we focus on partnering with schools and hospitals.”

Their food hub business model connects local farmers in the rural Mid-Atlantic region with wholesale customers in urban areas.  In their first year, Common Market worked with only a dozen farmers and had 22 customers, but they kept growing—adding trucks and building relationships with local family farms and institutional buyers in urban communities. Read more »

Training Empowers Ag Boards to Recruit the Next Generation of Farmers

Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (center, first row) is thanked by AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (far right, first row) and members of the AMS research and promotion team for speaking at the diversity and inclusion training event on Feb. 18, 2015. USDA photo.

Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (center, first row) is thanked by AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (far right, first row) and members of the AMS research and promotion team for speaking at the diversity and inclusion training event on Feb. 18, 2015. USDA photo.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, and all of USDA are committed to supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers and promoting diversity and inclusion in all sectors of agriculture. As Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I had the pleasure of advancing these important priorities during our Research and Promotion Program (R&P) board diversity and inclusion training session, held in Northern Virginia prior to the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Meeting participants – including more than 50 board members and board staff from 20 of the 22 R&P boards that we oversee, AMS employees, and representatives of Certified Nominating Organizations – gathered to tackle a serious issue: how to recruit talented and diverse board members who are representative of the industries they serve. The R&P boards allow farmers and ranchers to pool their resources and set common goals to develop new markets and strengthen current markets for the commodities they grow or handle. Read more »