Overview of USDA Agriculture Marketing Service

Rincker Law Food & Ag Law Leave a Comment

I’m currently conducting a blog series where each week I give an overview of the responsibilities of a government agency regulating our food and agriculture system.  I think it’s a helpful reminder for everyone on just how complex our regulatory system really is.  It’s a game of Who’s Who for government players in the U.S. food and agriculture economy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Agriculture Marketing Service (“AMS”) reports to the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  AMS works with the marketing of agriculture products at the domestic and international level.  It too works to ensure there are fair trading practices with the food, fiber and specialty crop industries.

AMS promulgates regulations for the following federal programs:

AMS is the government agency responsible for establishing the yield and quality grade marks for beef, pork and lamb.  It has also established standards for grading, certification and verification of chicken, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, pigeons, shell eggs, and dairy products. Furthermore, AMS has established quality grades for wholesale purchasers of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables

Organizationally, AMS has the following programs:

  • Cotton and Tobacco Program
  • Dairy Program
  • Fruit and Vegetable program
  • National Organic Program
  • Transportation and Marketing Program
  • Compliance and Analysis Program
  • Livestock and Seed Program
  • Poultry Program
  • Science and Technology Program

AMS is also greatly involved with farmers’ markets and other forms of direct marketing for livestock producers.  Specifically, AMS facilitates the Farmers Market Promotion Program (“FMPP”) and Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (“FSMIP”) grant programs.  A list of farmers’ markets around the country can be found at http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/.

Additionally, AMS administers commodity research and promotion programs funding through “Checkoff” programs (e.g., Beef Checkoff).  It is also involved in the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Organic Cost Share Program.

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