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Grading, Certification, and Verification
Fresh Products Grading and Quality Certification  
Grading is paid for by user fees and is voluntary except for commodities that are regulated for quality by a marketing order or marketing agreement, subject to import or export requirements, or purchased by USDA or certain other Government agencies.

Grading may be conducted as the produce is being packed for shipment to market or at destination, either for the receiverís use in handling the lot or to settle questions that may arise between the shipper and the receiver.

To provide grading service nationwide, AMS maintains cooperative agreements in 48 States and Puerto Rico. Under Federal-State agreements, Federally licensed graders work throughout the country at points of origin, sometimes working in fields as crops are harvested. In addition, grading services are provided at 31 Federal terminal markets and approximately 100 Federal-State terminal markets. All grading services in Oklahoma are currently performed by AMS.

As a basis for its fresh products grading, AMS has developed 166 official grade standards for 86 fresh fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, peanuts, and related commodities. They describe the quality requirements for each grade of commodity, giving industry a common language for buying and selling. AMS works to ensure that the standards are uniformly applied throughout the country. If a request for official grading is based on U.S. grade standards, the official certificate covering the shipment will show which AMS grade the product meets. These certificates are accepted as legal evidence in all Federal courts.

Shippers of fresh produce can have their commodities graded for quality and condition at shipping point locations to establish the quality of the product. Receivers use the grading services to determine whether a shipment meets contract terms and to help select the best use for a particular shipment. Institutional buyers and government agencies use services to ensure deliveries meet required specifications. Processors have their raw commodity deliveries inspected using grading services to determine payment to growers. Industry members also find grade reports useful in determining produce storage life and choosing the best use for particular lots.

In an effort to implement new services that respond to customer needs, AMS is now offering digital images as an additional inspection service. The produce industry can request digital images of fresh fruit and vegetables depicting the appearance of produce, defects, shifted loads, brands and container markings, and the condition of the containers.

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Additional Information
  Learn How to Read a FV-300 FEIRS (Electronic) Certificate  
  Inspection, Grading, and Certification  
  Audit Services:GAP and GHP  
  Fresh Fruit, Vegetable, Nut, and Specialty Crop Standards  
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  Last Modified Date: 06/29/2010