International Produce Training

USDA Closes Some Doors

Within the last week the USDA has ceased offering inspections to the cities of Buffalo, NY and El Paso, TX.  Although applicants can still request inspections, it is going to cost much more and the convenience of receiving a timely inspection may be a thing of the past.

So what are the options?  Well there seem to be two choices.  Applicants (wholesalers and shippers alike) can call the Rochester, NY inspection office and request an inspection for Buffalo.  That option is not too bad as NY State Department of Agriculture does have a couple of inspectors assigned to that portion of western New York .  Although the expenses for an inspection may be higher, overtime may be necessary, the timeliness of inspection may not be too bad.

El Paso may be another story.  Applicants will be encouraged to contact the Dallas, TX office for any inspections in the El Paso area.  Unfortunately Dallas is some 600 plus miles away from El Paso, so driving will be out of the question.  Unless the USDA offers an alternative, the Dallas inspector(s) will have to drive to the Dallas airport, park their car, board a flight to El Paso, rent a car and drive to the point of inspection.  I would assume the applicant will liable for all expenses involved in the trip……not to mention paying the $151 inspection fee.  If the USDA decides to add on the travel time, expect another $74 for every hour, to and from El Paso.

So what’s the other option?  The other choice is to fore-go the costs of the USDA inspection altogether.  As more and more receivers are placing a greater emphasis on their own in-house inspection, shippers are becoming more and more acceptable of the inspection results.  Receivers and shippers came to that conclusion in Salt Lake City, as the USDA closed the doors on the inspection service there last year.  If push comes to shove, shippers have been moving rejected loads to another destination and calling for inspections in those markets.

It seems as if the trend of the USDA is to shut down offices in markets that are in the red.  We may be seeing a few more offices close shop in the coming years.  Maybe another inspection fee increase is in the works, but there is limit as to just how much they can charge for inspections before the users of the service say enough is enough.  Time will tell.  It may be time to increase the skill level of your quality assurance personnel.

18 Comments on “USDA Closes Some Doors”

Anonymous Says:

Working for this bunch has been challenging. With only a few years to go, my only hope is to hang on.

Anonymous Says:

For Anonymous: If life with USDA is so troublesome and challenging, you should find something else to do. If your heart and soul are not in your job, you are not doing the job that is expected of you. Go find something else to do that you can cope with and enjoy.

Anonymous Says:

why did these offices end up in the red? sometimes you have to look at that factor before closing the place. wasn’t Buffalo a thriving inspection office at one time? why the sudden drop in inspection requests?

Anonymous Says:

I never said the USDA is so troublesome, or that my heart and soul is not in my job. I love my job and feel frustrated with the lousy management decisions coming out of DC. In a few years I will be gone, as well as the entire inspection service. The only difference is I will be retired and everyone else will be unemployed.

Anonymous Says:

Bronx office has been losing money every year. Any changes going to happen there?

tyawman Says:

It appears all the office closures are completed, for the time being. The Training Center will be undergoing a major reduction in space as AMS moves in some of their other program areas.

tyawman Says:

The state agriculture of New Mexico has come to rescue the USDA. The state has made arrangements to cover the inspection requests in El Paso. If the inspectors come from Las Cruces the distance is only about 50 miles. Kudos to the state for stepping up, for the good of the industry.

If the USDA could convince the states of Washington, California and New York to take over the markets of Seattle, Los Angeles and The Bronx the financial future of the inspection service would be promising.

Anonymous Says:

Tom;
Would the state of New York ever be able to take over the inspections at Hunts Point? Aren’t they now doing Buffalo? Albany?
Hasn’t there recently been a change of OIC’s at the Hunts Point office?

tyawman Says:

New York State Department of Agriculture currently handles the inspection requests in Albany (including Orange County), Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Taking on Hunts Point would be a daunting task, but if they took on the financial responsibility of Hunts Point the USDA would free itself of this market. I don’t think NYS will be as generous as New Mexico and rescue the USDA.

Yes, the current OIC from Hunts Point is being replaced. The job vacancy announcement for that position should be posted on http://www.usajobs.gov soon. Also the OIC position in Los Angeles is still vacant, from when the OIC retired in January 2009.

olden timer Says:

Have I been out of the loop!!!! To anonymous Aug. 7 12:17. If all you are doing is hanging on you should be turned in for waste! Talk like that goes against all ethical practices and behavior. Like one of the guys used to say. “Mistle toe hanging from my belt, and they can kiss ……. good bye if they don’t like it. ” It is time to go.

Anonymous Says:

Get your facts straight. The OIC from Hunts Point is leaving voluntarily to advance her career. Last year that office was in the Black as well.

You must be out of the loop.

anonymous Says:

What is the matter here. Can this site only show the negative? says a lot.

Layne Marlow Says:

Hello Tom!

The Texas Cooperative Inspection Program has placed an Inspector in the El Paso area several months ago. We are rotating our Inspectors while in the process of filling that full time position within.

TC

Annon Says:

So the Hunt’s Point market was in the black last year, eh? That’s a good one! It’s also contrary to every quarterly report put out by HQ in the last 4 years or so. So save the smoke-n-mirrors rhetoric. (I never thought I ever get to use the term “Voo Doo Economics” again, but…..)

Face it, FPB has priced themselves right out of the market. Any applicant with a high speed internet connection and a digital camera (their own, not one they pay FPB an outrageous fee per photo) can pretty much get their message across to any shipper in the world. Produce handlers, both shippers and receivers, have also done a great job of educating themselves on standards, procedures, PACA rules and regulations, etc. The trend seems to suggest the produce industry has begun to police itself. What with the outrageous fee increases by FPB, it’s no wonder.

So, with all of this in mind, I don’t think anything “is the matter here.” While some of the comments may be negative, they are factual and to the point. Get over it. As the old saying goes, “The truth will set you free.” (Just as FPB’s management policies appear to be setting a lot of inspector’s free – from the employment roles).

olden timer Says:

How long does it take to cook the books these days? I am waiting for my copy of the Financials. A FOIA is around the corner! So we (each and every one of us) can see all the good news. O.T.

hendrick Says:

Let’s get the facts straight. No negativity, just facts. Then we can all decide, truthfully, where the inspection service is headed.
Backstep to the year 1990. How many field offices, that had federal, not state inspectors were there? If someone has an old address book they will be able to give us a count.
Fact: In 1990 the following offices had at least one federal inspector.
1. Buffalo
2. El Paso
3. Salt Lake City
4. Little Rock
5. Charleston
6. Providence
7. Baltimore
8. Columbus
9. Harrisburg

ALL of these offices have since closed. Not to mention how many of the current “open” offices have reductions in field inspectors. Hint: At least 10 offices now work with less inspectors than they did in 1990.

Bottom Line: Closing doors and reducing the availability of federal inspectors and NOT the costs of inspections are the reasons, I feel, are adding to the decrease in service. Shippers still want and are willing to pay for inspections, but their just aren’t enough field inspectors left to go out there and get the job done.

I am READY for the comments to my thoughts and will respond to facts, etc. Not trying to be negative. Just trying to understand in what direction the service is heading before its too late. So lets get the comments coming and the discussions going and maybe we can do some constructive help for keeping alive a very, very, very valuable service to the industry!

Anonymous Says:

don’t forget that New Orleans also was closed. and that market used to have 4 inspectors.

Anonymous Says:

let’s also not forget the closings in Tennessee and Kentucky.

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