USDA to raise inspection fees this fall

USDA’s Specialty Crop Program inspections will rise Oct. 1, as it modernizes into a more data-driven, customer-focused organization.

The amount wasn’t released for the increase, which USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service says are needed for the audit and inspection services to ensure revenue adequately covers operational expenses and maintain an adequate operating reserve.

USDA said the program “is shifting away from aging systems for billing, inspection, and certificate processes and paper-based processes. The holistic solution – SCI 2.0 – takes into consideration the industry’s laser-focus approach and need to move at the speed of business.”

Services provided by the inspection division include voluntary user-fee funded inspection, grading, auditing and laboratory analysis services which facilitate the marketing of fresh, frozen, and processed fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in the United States.

AMS said about 2,400 inspectors inspect and certify more than 3 billion pounds of processed fruit and vegetable products and over 52 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year. These include more than 1 billion pounds of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable items for the country’s domestic feeding programs. They also conduct about 4,000 food safety audits annually.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media for Blue Book Services