International Produce Training

The Packer- Fresh Talk Blog

About a week ago I had the pleasure of paticipating in an on-line chat with Tom Karst, National Editor of The Packer.  He asked me a few questions about International Produce Training, what we offer to the produce industry and a few questions about my experience with the USDA, during the bribery scandal in Hunts Point.

The entire chat can be found here:  Fresh Talk Blog 

A few people have asked me follow up questions surrounding Hunts Point, and the future of the USDA Inspection Service.  While being a trainer for the USDA, for about 7 years at the Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA I was able to meet and get to know every terminal market inspector in the country.  At the Training Center we first started to provide two week refresher classes for every Federal and Federal State Inspector.  A 10 week class for new inspectors was created and held on an annual basis.  Each of these courses devoted much time to ethics training, customer service and professional skill training, as well as extensive hands on grading exercises for technical training.  Due to financial problems within the USDA’s inspection program, the two week refresher classes were cut back to a mere 6 hours of on-line training last year.  The annual new inspector training course has been cut back to an 8 week course, and has only been held once during the past three years.

The spacious Training Center is in the process of being scaled down, eliminating the computer class room, eliminating the library, and moving the grading lab to another location within the building.  Will these cutbacks in training and resources have an adverse affect on the workforce?  It most definitely will.  Couple the loss of training with the loss of personnel through layoffs and attrition, and there is problem brewing within the inspection ranks.

I was asked if I thought another “Operation Forbidden Fruit” could occur.  It was a very dark day period of time for the inspection service.  Many thought it was the end of the program. The produce industry had lost complete faith and trust in a service that depends on trust.  The inspectors have done a terrific job of resurrecting the service, maintaining the credibility of the program was paramount, and despite the decisions by management to increase Washington, DC overhead, cut back personnel in the field offices and training opportunities for everyone, the inspectors, the workers, have done an admirable job of providing the best service they can.

11 Comments on “The Packer- Fresh Talk Blog”

MangoMan Says:

Great read! Do you think the USDA inspection training program will eventually go away completely?

tyawman Says:

Thanks for the question. The USDA Inspection Service has been in business for over 60 years. If anything will kill the program it will be their administrative costs. The USDA currently has a Chief, an Assistant Chief and an Assistant to the Chief. There is a Head of Field Operations and an Assistant Head of Field Operations. Also, they have a Head of Training and Standardization and an Assistant Head of Training and Standardization.

But, the office in Los Angeles went almost 12 months without an Officer in Charge. The largest office in the country, Hunts Point, has been without an Officer in Charge for the past few months, and countless market inspection offices have suffered reductions in personnel through attrition and forced transfers. If the inspection service is going to survive they will need inspectors in the field not managers in Washington.

Anonymous Says:

Administrative costs? Our office has to pay over 40% of our revenue to HQ for their overhead costs. That means all the revenue from each and every inspection we do from January to May has to go to HQ, just to cover their expenses. And this is true for every market office in the country. No wonder we are going broke!

Anonymous Says:

Hey anonymous;
HQ is much needed to run and oversee the operations. The 40% is just a part of doing business. HQ doesn’t get the kind of bonuses that corporation CEO’s get. So be thankful you have a job and get out there and do inspections of which you were hired to do. If you want chances to the program then go to work at HQ.

Anonymous Says:

WOW…someone needs to go back to middle school and take another grammar course! BTW – No, you are NOT neded at 40%!

Anonymous Says:

not needed? you need to go back to middle school and see how those “middle schoolers” would teach themselves, show up for class and behave without the instructors.
Don’t be foolish. The field needs HQ and all of its components.

Anonymous Says:

Again WOW – you missed the point you HQ POD! You are run by a group of nincompoops who can’t formulate a proper sentence or thought. WHY can’t HQ answer simple questions like blanching versus yellowing or any other number of defects that have been raised over the years? Am I still off base? I have been around for more than a few years and KNOW how misrepresented things from the FPB are – so do many others. Hey, what about that third party audit from Paradigm that occurred in which the FPB management gave FALSE budget numbers? OOOPS was that a secret? Oh, when is the CHIEF coming back? The FPB is TRULY in capable hands as we speak… People are fed up and its time someone actually investigate what’s going on!! I challenge the HQ person to give a name in their response and myself and the other 12 people who formulated this response will upon the reveal……yes 12!!!!!

Anonymous Says:

why not give YOUR name instead of remaining anonymous?

Anonymous Says:

False budget numbers? can you elaborate please?

thedog Says:

Unfortunately, the inspectors in the field do not have a say in any of the restructuring taking place, nor do they have any real access to the real financials of the branch.
And, is the Branch Chief coming back or did she jump to FDA?

olden timer Says:

Yea, when do we get those financial numbers? Do we have to wait for the March 30 advisory committee meeting when FPB springs the next fee increase on the users of the service? And how do they calculate the split between Market and SPI oblications?

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