Courtesy USDAAgricultural Marketing Service inspectors Geno DeSanto (left) and Bob Schofield examine bananas at the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center. With the merging of the agency’s fresh and processed divisions, inspectors will now be cross-trained so they can inspect fresh produce as well as frozen and processed. With the formation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Inspection Division, the federal government combined inspections, grading and auditing services for fresh, frozen and processed fruits and vegetables.
Lorenzo Tribbett is the director of the new division, which is part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Tribbett has been with USDA since 2001. In 2006 he led the group that reorganized the agency’s division for the enforcement of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
The number of inspectors and inspections will remain the same as before the fresh and processed divisions merger, said AMS spokeswoman Gwen Sparks.
In a recent blog post, Tribbett said merging the two divisions should save the government money. Tribbett
“We were able to combine several administrative functions and systems such as billing, finance, certification, training, quality management and customer service,” Tribbett wrote in the blog. “This reduced redundancy without losing functionality.”
Tribbett said the Specialty Crops Inspection Division has more than 800 employees who grade, certify and provide quality control services throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The staff is in all major terminal markets and other sites across the country.
Staff will be cross-trained so all will be able to inspect fresh, frozen and processed produce, Tribbett said.
“By sharing knowledge throughout our workforce like this, the new division will be more agile and responsive to our customers’ needs,” according to the blog.
“All of our changes are designed to capitalize on the strengths that existed in both branches and will allow us to provide improved service to the country’s produce growers, producers and consumers.”