International Produce Training

USDA Inspection Offices

As the USDA is going through their reorganization plans, it has been announced that inspectors will be reduced and a few offices will close.  Is this going to affect the wholesalers, who rely on the inspection service?  Will many opt for using their own QC program and only use the USDA when necessary?  How is the morale holding up for the inspectors on the front line?

23 Comments on “USDA Inspection Offices”

Anonymous Says:

I am not sure if the staff reductions are affecting our use of the USDA inspections as much as the increased fees. We are performing many of our inspections “in-house” and only call for a federal inspection when necessary. The shippers we deal with are also taking the same approach. So far everyone is getting used to the idea of less federal inspections, saving both time and money.

Anonymous Says:

The inspectors that come to our warehouse have been really depressed. They have real concerns, not only about their own personal future, but also over the future of the inspection service.

Anonymous Says:

I am aware that many USDA Inspectors are looking for other jobs, and some have already left. What is going to happen when the only part of the inspection service remaining is the HQ Management in Washington DC?

anonymous Says:

It is amazing how people you have confided in and trusted are showing their true colors. We are evolving to a creature similar to the one from the BLACK LAGOON. Kind of odd how someone you have known for years will stiff you, snickering in the dark halls of the south ag building.

anonymous Says:

I just have to say that this re-org thing looks more like a hit list that an actual planned out event and that the Chief and assistant chief have been no help in providing any real answers about what is and is not going to happen. The inspectors I know and have been in touch with have the same kind of views on this; and how do you think people are going to act when alot of them are just waiting to get a letter in the mail. I think that the USDA is just pissing on the industry that went to bat for them in the past and it’s just going to get worse.

Anonymous Says:

The USDA Inspector

Once upon a time several Farmers had a Large Crop at the end of an Outstanding Growing Season. They argued, “My crop is better than yours – better quality.” But there were no standards to judge any of these claims by. So the Government created a Branch to provide Inspections of their crops based on Standards set up by the Farmers, and called it USDA – FFV.
The USDA then hired an Inspector at $75,000 a year for the job.

Then USDA said, “How does the Inspector do his job without instruction?” So they created a Field Operations Section and hired two people, one person to write the standards for $100,000, and one person to establish fees for an additional $100,000 per year.

Then USDA said, “How will we know the Inspector is doing the tasks correctly? So they created a Training and Development Section and hired two people. One to do the studies for $100,000 and one to write the reports for an additional $100,000 per year.

Then USDA said, “How are these people going to get paid?” So they created the following positions, a time keeper for $100,000 annual salary, and a payroll officer for an additional $100,000, then hired two people.

Then USDA said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?” So they created an administrative section and hired three people, a Chief an Assistant Chief and Assistant to the Assistant Chief for an additional $300,000 per year.

Then the Chief said, “We have had this operating for one year with a budget cost of $1M and we are $80,000 over budget. We must cutback overall cost.”

So they laid off the Inspector.

Anonymous Says:

From the August 12th Packer;

“In phone calls and e-mail communications in late July, AMS officials said the restructuring process that began in April this year will take another six or seven months to complete. To trim costs by about $5 million per year and regain financial footing for the user-fee funded program, the agency plans to reduce the number of fruit and vegetable inspectors in 22 of the 36 federal offices. AMS officials say the cuts are required to forestall eventual termination of the destination inspection service because user fees have not kept pace with expenses.”

What do AMS officials mean, “forestall eventual termination of the destination inspection service?” How long does the inspection service have….days….months,…… years…? This doesn’t sound good at all.

bigred1 Says:

I have in the past worked in almost every major produce market in the US. My observations are these. Most but not all big market OIC’s, Asst OIC’s, and Training Officers need to get out of the office once in a while and try leading there staff from the front. This is the only way to see if an inspector is pulling their weight. Nothing gains a workers respect like working beside them everyday. If a person is in the field working and for some reason can’t or won’t pull their weight RIF them. Every person in the service should be able to correctly perform enough duties in a day to cover their wages if not RIF them. This not only includes inspectors but Officers as well. In the case of inspections to be performed on OT these assignment should only be assigned to competent personnel, not those few who ride the clock. Out of town inspections should only be assigned to people who have enough brains to find the location of the applicant and their way home with out getting lost or side tracked some where along the way. Smaller markets and one man markets often do better left alone. The in charge person there knows or should know that if their performance is lacking it will eventually be seen in DC. With this in mind smaller or one man markets will do better because they know there is no one else to blame but them.
As far as the current restructuring process I think there is absolutely some fat to trim from the program. Careful consideration should be given though to the problem inspector i.e. whiners and complainers. HQ should take a look at the number of 300’s issued per inspector in each office over the last year. Those doing the fewest inspections and those with the most mistakes or overly high OT charges should be the first to go. Forget cutting the high salary older more experienced people they need to stay. Cut the dead beats and people who don’t work to start with, they are the problem anyway.
What about this idea; we take all of Field OPs support staff and program managers and relocate them to take on the duties of OIC’s in strategic offices around the country. Bust these OIC’s and their staff down one level. The current OIC would now be the asst OIC ECT, ECT. This would cut cost for office checks and travel to and from the field. Not to mention the locality pay would not be as high. PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION. After all it’s only your welfare at stake.

Anonymous Says:

In response to big red, I say: Have you ever tried to just get rid of a deadbeat government employee? It is not that easy a thing to do. He (she) floats around the system.
As for your idea of bringing Field Ops and program managers to be the “new” OIC’s? Well, that would just give HQ a reason to hire more DC support staff to do office checks to oversee the “new” OIC’s.
Better do a little more research before you become a backyard quarterback.

bigred1 Says:

In response to Anonymous 8-16 @9:18 am, I can tell by the selective way you pick out the weak points of my comments, and your lack of attention to detail that you must be at least a GS-12 or higher. I have noticed the higher the pay grade the fewer the brain cells that seem to be working correctly. Now listen one more time while I splain it to you again Lucy. Support staff positions in FOS would no longer exist. No rehires. They are out of there. How many support staff does it take to screw in a light bulb anyway? End of story.

And yes I see deadbeat government employees dealt with all around me.
You just make things uncomfortable for them until they leave on their own. You know what to do. Put them on extended leave, give them the poor evaluations that they have worked so hard to earn, or just move their desk.

By the way I hate football.

Anonymous Says:

Big Red;
I am not arguing the points you have made. Just stating that it is not easy to get rid of a government employee who has several years in one office, and has had many good performance apraisals. It is easier to promote or relocate to another field office.
As for your suggestion to place field ops at offices. You would STILL need to have office checks to oversee them. Support staff positions would no longer exist? Don’t be silly. Support staff in DC will always exist. They will never change that. Are you a program manager by any chance? If so, explain “lucy” exactly what you do? I am not sure if program managers bring in any revenue, do any office checks, bring in new business, do any training? What exactly do you do Mr program manager?

Hendrik Says:

Big red and annonymous seem to have it all wrong. The inspectors in the field are the bread and butter of the organization. Give them the respect that they deserve and they will all perform. Reorganization has begun and a lot of talented and hard working people have left already.

bigred1 Says:

Anonymous as a matter fact I am not a program manager. What do you think about Hendrik’s Idea? Should we all just put our arms around each others shoulders and jump off a cliff together. I think we are already doing that.
Hendrik’s I fully understand that the inspectors are the bread and butter of the organization. Now please explain to me why I am suppose to give respect to a person who doesn’t have any respect for themselves, their jobs or the people they work with and for!! I also agree with you that talented and hard working people have left. Next the good and decent people who work for us will follow. Then who will be left? I took an oath when I came to work. Was I the only one? Maybe some of us should brush up on that. There could be a pop quiz at the next refresher.

anonymous Says:

ADVICE to all the people that are hanging on by their fingernails: There is life after USDA and it is great. I work for a private company and we do a Daily Profit % at the end of each and every day. (Note I did not have the word “LOSS” in the sentence.) Now that would be an challenge for the FEIRS I.T. staffers.

Lucy says: They call it work for a reason.

annoymuss Says:

Hey, ADVISE, how do I get a job like yours?

anonymous Says:

When you are good they come to you. I have had quite a few offers in the past. Some of them were laughable, most were serious but not quite the money I needed to switch. Be professional, effecient and don’t be a jerk.

Lucy says: Be on the train when it leaves the station.

Anonymous Says:

Morale? The morale in the USDA inspection offices is at an all-time low. Word came from management that 13 federal inspectors will be losing their jobs this month. Not HQ staff, but inspection staff. Some offices are being slated for closure, and the remaining offices will have a skeleton crew. All this is happening during a horrible time with the economy. If only management had done their job and kept the HQ spending in control, things would be different, much different.

Anonymous Says:

you are wrong about the morale and also about HQ.
Problem has been that the inspectors are too busy not getting out there and doing inspections.
The foot soldiers are the ones to bring in the revenue.
Have they? NO!

Anonymous Says:

We keep hearing over and over how well the inspection service is doing now. Why are offices closing and why are inspectors being let go?

Anonymous Says:

I hear through the grape vine that the trend is to contract for inspections services; to guarantee the inspectors salary, benifits and HQ overhead. Has anyone else heard of that trend???

Can anybody sign the contact and farm the inspector out?

PBB Says:

You must be speaking of the Pittsburgh fiasco. I doubt the USDA will be able to pull this one off. They are going to charge a select few applicants an extremely high contract fee, guaranteeing the inspector’s salary, benefits and USDA overhead in Washington, DC. This is grossly unfair to the Pittsburgh market applicants, leading to an unfair marketing “disadvantage” compared with their competition. And the big question- what will the USDA charge for inspections to those applicants in Pittsburgh that do not sign on to this contract of extortion? NO WAY this happens folks.

UpItyUP Says:

I appreciate the changes and investment you have made to your website, It shows a reinvestment and commitment you have made to your customers. Keep up the great work!!! One day you will be in the same position that the company I work with. The year end bonus is great!!!!!! The only thing I got from USDA was a reminder the we are not to take anything from the vendors (Oh, I forgot, the year end card with the stamped signatures was great). The rewards with private industry far surpass the past faux gratitude!!! Dave Lewis , where are you now????

Kelly Brown Says:

Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

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