USDA Revises Handling Requirements for Florida Tomatoes

November 04, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced revisions to the handling requirements under the federal marketing order for tomatoes grown in Florida. The Florida Tomato Committee recommended this action to eliminate the standard weight certification requirement from the marketing order regulations. Other marketing order standards for grade, size, maturity, pack and container remain unchanged. 

The committee believes there is no longer enough benefit to require tomato handling operations to expend the cost and time required for standard weight certification of containers used for transporting tomatoes. In making its recommendation, the committee stated that providing the necessary labor to properly administer the certification program is expensive and time-consuming, and that tomato handlers outside the regulated area are not required to maintain the same standard weight certification.

The final rule for this action was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 4, 2019. The proposed rule for this action was published on April 16, 2019, and provided a 30-day public comment period.

More information about the marketing order regulating the handling of tomatoes produced in Florida is available on the 966 Florida Tomatoes page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.

Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, marketing orders are industry-driven programs that help producers and handlers achieve marketing success by leveraging their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually. AMS provides oversight to 29 fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing orders and agreements to ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

More information about federal marketing orders is available on the Marketing Orders and Agreements page of the AMS website or by contacting the Marketing Order and Agreement Division at (202) 720-2491.