What does this neglect of a fresh produce outlook say about attitudes within the agency toward certain commodities?
Yes, the USDA and OCE have to make choices. But so do the American people. The agency has been urging consumers to be responsible and eat their fruits and vegetables.
Americans seem to be listening. Meat and poultry per capita consumption has fallen to about 200 pounds, while consumption of fruits and vegetables has grown to 269 pounds and 417 pounds, respectively, according to the USDA.
However, the USDA also has to be responsible. Its ability to influence others must begin within, with an attitude that grants fresh produce just as much importance as meat and grains — an importance in line with its consumption figures.
The USDA should walk the walk by adding a produce outlook session to its forum and bringing produce industry participants into the general conversation about commodities and projections and what Americans — and the rest of the world — are buying, selling and eating.
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