Every successful business must have a solid plan to successfully take it from the initial startup phase all the way through its push to expand its operations after the business matures. The same can be said for an industry looking to reach new heights in its lifecycle. A concerted emphasis must be placed on strengthening research, product development, and marketing efforts. To help out on this front, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) oversees 28 fruit and vegetable marketing order boards and committees. These entities develop regulations that moderate the flow of high quality produce, benefitting growers, handlers, and consumers. These groups also create research, marketing, and promotional campaigns that help expand the reach of the industry’s products.
Through the AMS Marketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD), industries approach the agency to establish a way to overcome marketing barriers. These efforts help growers and handlers within a geographic area increase their sales. The issues the committees focus on vary. For example, the Pistachio Marketing Order established reporting and Aflatoxin testing requirements on inshell and shelled pistachios. Pistachios produced in California, Arizona, and New Mexico are now required to be certified as meeting certain minimum quality requirements that are established by the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (ACP).
Thanks to the Pistachio Marketing Order, the industry has increased its standing. Since its development in 2004 up through the 2012-2013 season, the volume of inshell pistachios has increased from 165 million pounds in a production year to 385 million pounds. Recent regulations enabled the use of mechanical sampling for Aflatoxin testing, which is expected to reduce handling costs. To help growers reach new markets, the ACP is also looking at establishing a voluntary Aflatoxin testing program for exports.
While the Pistachio Marketing Order addresses the quality of pistachios in commerce, it does not authorize research and promotion activities. However, some of our other marketing orders authorize research and promotion activities. For example, the California Almond Marketing Order enables the Almond Board of California to conduct nutritional research about the benefits of eating almonds. Their innovative research and development projects that fuel cutting-edge marketing efforts have helped California’s almond yield quadruple in the past 30 years.
AMS remains committed to working with all of our marketing order committees. Currently, our marketing order regulations serve more than 60,000 producers and support a combined crop value of more than $21 billion. We look forward to increasing these numbers. We encourage other groups to visit the MOAD website to see how a marketing order can help their industries successfully reach new milestones in their lifecycles.