AMS verifies cage-free claims for shell eggs by visiting the farms twice each year to ensure that the eggs are in fact coming from a cage-free flock. (Click to view a larger version)
When it comes to purchasing eggs, consumers have interests that go well beyond what they see in the carton. For many buyers, where that egg came from and how it was produced are just as important as the finished product. Organic, locally produced, cage-free, and free range are just a few of the marketing claims consumers will find on the carton, as producers try to communicate the attributes of their product. To provide additional assurance to their customers of the validity of marketing claims, shell egg producers often enlist the services of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
In recent months, a long list of large volume food buyers – including restaurants, grocers, distributors and more – have announced they will transition to sourcing eggs and egg products only from cage-free production systems. You can learn more about this trend in a recent USDA Blog post. Many shell egg suppliers have already found a way to assure customers that products marketed as cage-free are indeed sourced from such systems: when USDA Graded eggs are also identified as cage-free, they must undergo a review process to verify the claim is truthful. Read more »
Less than 30 million of the over 300 million hens that lay our nation’s eggs are raised in cage free systems. AMS is committed to working with the U.S. egg industry to facilitate their efforts to address this challenge.
Have you been to a supermarket to buy a carton of eggs lately? If so, you may have found an array of food marketing claims on the packages. All natural, organic, cage-free, pasture-raised, free range, non-GMO, raised without antibiotics, Omega-3 enriched and vegetarian-fed diet are just a small sample of the many claims consumers might see in the egg case. The modern food shopper is inundated by choice.
From its inception, the role of AMS has been to facilitate an efficient, fair, and competitive marketing system to benefit producers and consumers. One of the ways AMS accomplishes this is by establishing and applying grade standards to different agricultural products. Terms such as “Grade A” and “Large” have become a trusted part of the American egg vocabulary, helping both farmers and consumers with descriptive labels. Other marketing terms that now appear on egg cartons have evolved to reflect consumers’ demand to understand things like where the eggs come from, how chickens were raised and who raised them. Read more »
“The USDA and Weaver Brothers have worked together for many years. This service opens up markets to us, both domestically and internationally,” said Jeff Schwieterman, Weaver Brothers' plant manager. “Having a qualified grader, like Terri, ensures that the eggs we ship out will meet our customers’ specifications.” Pictured here is AMS grader Terri Hummel and Jeff Schwieterman.
I’ve had many jobs in my life, but none as challenging or rewarding as my career as a shell egg grader. With a cumulative 22 years grading eggs in Ohio, I’ve witnessed first-hand the evolution of an industry. I have also watched my agency – USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – adapt right alongside the industry, maintaining valuable, unbiased grading and certification services that support marketing opportunities for American agriculture in a global marketplace.
Last year, shell egg graders with the AMS Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program’s Quality Assessment Division (QAD) assisted the U.S. egg industry in exporting over 99.5 million dozen shell eggs to customers as far away as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and as near as Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Puerto Rico. Read more »
AMS’ Mark Perigen observes as a future chef at Delta College’s Culinary School puts his egg quality knowledge to the test.
When embarking on their culinary careers, great chefs recognize that the key to creating delicious food is staying true to their ingredients. At the heart of these truths is, “Good in; good out.” If they put the best ingredients into cooking, they’ll get the best food out of them. But with so many product and ingredient choices at their fingertips, how can they be sure they’re picking the best quality ingredients available?
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) takes the guesswork out of that process by developing, maintaining and interpreting specific measurements of quality through U.S. standards and grades for a wide variety of agricultural products. AMS also offers voluntary services to producers and suppliers to certify products to those standards. Read more »
People who suffer from peanut and wheat allergies may soon find relief thanks to USDA funded research.
The release of the USDA’s 2014 Technology Transfer Report highlights the groundbreaking discoveries made by USDA researchers, who continue to push the envelope and come up with new and exciting innovations. The scientific advancements in knowledge and the creation of new technologies directly impact Americans in that they create safer environments and provide efficient solutions for a wide range of issues. Here are just four of the transformative innovations that can be found in the USDA Tech Transfer Report: Read more »
Catfish farming has helped Mississippi agriculture’s bottom line. Check back next week as we spotlight another state and look at more information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
Mississippi, commonly called the “Magnolia State”, has long been one of the most rural states in the United States. However, agriculture makes significant contributions to all of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Agriculture is a leading industry in Mississippi. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, our farmers generated $6.4 billion in market value of agricultural products sold in 2012, a 32 percent increase from the last census.
The census counted almost 11 million acres of farmland, down 5 percent from the 2007 Census. The average farm size increased to 287 acres, up 5 percent from 2007. The highest concentration of cropland is located in the Delta Area of the State. Read more »