In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) supported both new and established industries through its efforts to create national standards for agricultural products and to improve tools and resources for customers.
“This year, AMS supported new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers and also continued our efforts to improve and modernize resources to better serve our customers,” AMS administrator Bruce Summers said. “Whether it’s a dairy product, your favorite fruit, vegetable or nut, the meat you grill or even the cotton in your clothes, it’s likely that an AMS employee worked with industry to ensure products with a USDA shield or label meet standards you can trust.”
In October, AMS established a program to enable the domestic production of hemp nationwide for the first time in nearly 80 years. The ability to grow hemp represents a new economic opportunity for U.S. farmers and will pave the way for new products and markets over time. With the establishment of regulations for the production of hemp, AMS provided a consistent regulatory framework for producers.
For the first time, USDA purchased fresh fluid milk for distribution to food banks and food-insecure households. This new purchase program addresses the surplus of fluid milk across the country and provides healthy, U.S.-produced food to families in need. Since the launch of the fluid milk procurement program, AMS has purchased $53 million of fluid milk, which equates to 18.5 million gal. and 4,900 truckloads. At the Second Harvest food bank of Florida, one mother noted, “This means I no longer have to put water on my kids’ cereal in the morning.”
As part of the department’s effort to assist farmers adversely affected by unjustified trade retaliation, AMS, in collaboration with USDA's Food & Nutrition Service, administered a food purchase and distribution program to purchase $1.094 billion worth of tariff-affected products, including pork, dairy, pulse crops and a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. More than 27,000 truckloads carrying 1.009 billion lb. of agricultural products were distributed across all states, supporting 26 agricultural markets. The food was provided to food banks and pantries serving families across the nation.
In order to enhance service for existing customers, AMS implemented several major initiatives in 2019 to increase efficiency, streamline processes and improve the delivery of services by:
- Modernizing information technology systems for billions of dollars in food purchases;
- Working to strengthen the integrity of the USDA organic label;
- Increasing the use of technology in AMS grading programs, and
- Deploying new data systems for agricultural commodity price data and an open data visualization platform for transportation data.