Sonia Jimenez, new deputy administrator of the specialty crops program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Marketing Service (USDA – AMS), recently attended the 2017 PMA Fresh Summit to make a special announcement.
Jimenez started her position in September, but has been in the industry for a while. She began her career as a marketing specialist with AMS 25 years ago. In a USDA – AMS news release announcing her new position, Jimenez said she was honored to “come back home.”
Now, she is ready to spark some change within the AMS. In an exclusive interview, Jimenez said she was attending the PMA Fresh Summit to announce the formation of a Fresh Products Inspection Working Group. “We’re looking for 10 to 20 leaders in the industry to help us look at the future of the inspection service,” she said. Jimenez would ideally like industry leaders from all sectors of the industry to be a part of the group, so AMS can better serve the industry.
Regarding inspections, a lot has changed over the years. According to Jimenez, in the past, inspections used to occur in a single location. The inspector would be sent to the location and walk around the market to complete the inspection. Now, inspections take place at several different locations, so the inspectors have to travel. “That changes the way the business is done. It changes the way we inspect,” she said.
Ultimately, Jimenez would like to use this new working group to ensure that the Specialty Crop Inspection Division is doing everything it can to meet consumer needs as well as the division’s needs. “The industry’s changing, the world is changing, and we want to change with our customers,” she said.
The first meeting for the new working group will be on Nov. 16. It will be an internet or telephonic meeting, so people can participate from anywhere in the United States. For more information or if you would like to join the working group, click here.
Jimenez added that she likes to remind the industry that the USDA – AMS is there for the industry. She said the organization is always open to suggestions and recommendations on how to serve the industry. “We’re open to whatever helps us provide a better service, be more efficient, more effective and meet the needs of our customers,” she concluded.
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