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April 3, 2019

Change is in the air: USDA inspection fee increase and WGA’s Matt McInerney retires

As we each work diligently within our respective operations to adopt new technologies and enhance best practices to make our lives easier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been focused with the same approach in mind. With that being said, USDA has recently announced that the Specialty Crop Program will be raising inspection fees effective October 1, 2019, as it transforms into a more data-driven, customer-focused organization. While the exact fee increase hasn’t been released, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) says the increase will ensure revenue adequately covers operational expenses and maintains a sustainable operating reserve for the audit and inspections services.

USDA said the program “is shifting away from the 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.” AMS estimates 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, including more than one billion pounds of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable items for our domestic feeding programs. They also conduct about 4,000 food safety audits annually.

With the wave of change in the air, I would also like to take a moment to recognize and congratulate Western Growers’ Senior Executive Vice President, Matt McInerney, on his retirement effective March 29, 2019, after 43 dedicated years to our association and members. Matt was not only a mentor, but also a respected industry titan who has left a lasting legacy to be built upon. He was always a step ahead, helping guide the industry forward and always mindful of putting our members first. Hats off to you, Mr. McInerney, you will be missed!

Would you like guidance on any trade practices-related questions, comments or concerns? As a regular member of Western Growers, find out what the Trade Practices Department can do for your organization by contacting Bryan Nickerson at [email protected], 949-885-2392.

“Unlike fine wine, disputes do not improve with age.” – Matt McInerney