The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced it will be increasing inspection fees for fresh produce’s quality and condition, along with audit verification services. The rate increases, which were recently published in a Federal Register notice, took effect yesterday October 1st.
Quality and condition federal inspection fees will be increasing ten percent, from $191 to $210. Audit verification services will also be increasing just above six percent from $108 to $115. USDA has indicated that the rates are used to cover the direct and indirect costs incurred by the agency in the provision of services as well as maintaining operational reserves for each program as mandated by Congress. These services include the grading, inspection or certification of quality factors in accordance with established U.S. Grade Standards or other standards.
As sellers of fresh produce, this is a perfect opportunity for me to highlight the importance to the shipper community of ALWAYS securing a federal inspection (whether USDA in the states or CFIA in Canada) as the only means to validate whether or not you have breached your contractual obligations to your buyer. On a FOB sale, it is up to the buyer to prove the rejection by requesting a federal inspection. The contrary can be said about a delivered sale. This is also considered a fundamental, fiduciary step on your part as evidence back to the grower if adjustments need accountability. Never agree to a buyer’s in-house QC or QA report as evidence of a breach of contract.
Do you have any questions, comments or concerns, or would you like guidance on any disputes? Please feel free to contact Western Growers Trade Practices Department’s Bryan Nickerson at [email protected] or 949-885-2392.