May 4, 2021Inspection and audit rates remain unchanged, USDA says
USDA Specialty Crops Program fees for inspection and audit services will remain at current rates as of Oct. 1, 2021.
A notice on the unchanged rates was published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2021. The Specialty Crops Program (SCP) launched a series of cost saving efforts in support of agricultural industry stakeholders adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding audit services, SCP maximized efficiency by targeting hiring in areas of the country that experienced significant growth in audit services, minimizing travel and associated costs. We also implemented remote desk audit procedures to replace onsite audits for certain types of services during the pandemic.
Regarding processed and fresh products inspections, SCP executed a lean strategy that led to the adjustment of staffing levels, combining operational field offices, and cost reduction through meticulous scheduling of seasonal and part-time employees.
Nevertheless, SCP remains steadfast on modernizing into a more data-driven, customer-focused organization. Significant progress has been made on the development of the Specialty Crops Integrated Operating Network (SCION), an IT investment initiative that would replace two legacy systems. I’m pleased our efforts in efficiency and cost savings will benefit the entire fruit and vegetable industry.
– Sonia Jimenez, Deputy Administrator, Specialty Crops Program