Iowa Farm-01

Rules & Regulations

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber and specialty crops.  Many of these programs are regulatory in nature and establish standards and requirements via the Federal rulemaking process.  View a list of current proposed rules or review items that are open for comment.

Organic Regulations

Organic rules and regulations establish the standards, processes and enforcement procedures that govern farmers and businesses who want to sell, label and represent their products as organic.  The National Organic Program protects the integrity of organic products by auditing certifiers, investigating complaints, and enforcing regulations.  USDA also helps American farmers and processors tap into the growing international organic market through trade partnerships with several countries.

Marketing Orders & Agreements

  • Federal Milk Marketing Orders are Federal rules requested by industry to stabilize conditions for fluid milk.  They make the buying and selling of fluid milk an orderly, dependable process for dairy farmers, milk dealers and consumers.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Orders are Federal rules requested by industry to help fruit and vegetable growers work together to solve marketing problems they cannot solve individually.  They help to balance the availability of quality products with consumer demand and the need for adequate producer profits.

Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA)

PACA was enacted at the request of the fruit and vegetable industry to promote fair trade in the industry.  The Act protects businesses dealing in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables by establishing and enforcing a code of fair business practices and by helping companies to resolve business disputes.

Research and Promotion (R&P) Programs

R&P programs, authorized by Congress, are requested, funded, and driven by industry.  The programs establish a framework to pool resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities.

Mandatory Market Reporting

There are two Acts that establish requirements for electronic mandatory price and market information.  The Mandatory Market Reporting Act of 2010 directs USDA to release dairy product sales information weekly and the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act directs USDA to provide readily understandable livestock marketing information to producers, packers, and other market participants.  This information includes the pricing, contracting for purchase, and supply-and-demand conditions for livestock, livestock production, and livestock products.  

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a law requiring food retailers to use product labels that identify the source country of certain foods.  These foods include:

  • Muscle-cut and ground meats of beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken
  • Wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish
  • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts
  • Ginseng

Federal Seed Act

The Federal Seed Act (FSA) regulates the interstate shipment of agricultural and vegetable seeds.  The FSA protects everyone who buys seed by prohibiting false labeling and advertising of seed in interstate commerce.  AMS’ Seed Regulatory and Testing Division enforces FSA’s interstate commerce provisions and provides seed testing services under the Agricultural Marketing Act.

Plant Variety Protection Act 

The Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Office grants certificates of intellectual property protection (similar to patents) to developers of new plant varieties that are reproduced sexually by seed or are tuber propagated.  This protection enables a breeder to market the variety exclusively for 20 years (25 years for trees and vines), which creates an incentive for the development of new varieties.

Shell Egg Surveillance

The Shell Egg Surveillance program applies to eggs that are still in the shell.  The program helps to limit the number of eggs that are undesirable for human consumption—called “restricted eggs”—that enter consumer channels.  It also monitors the mandatory procedures for the disposition of restricted eggs.  AMS administers the program under the authority of the Egg Products Inspection Act.

Section 8e & Import Requirements

Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (AMAA) applies to specific fruit and vegetable imports into the United States. The law requires imported products to meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality and maturity standards as domestic products covered by Federal marketing orders. Grading and quality inspection by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is required for each lot (shipment) imported.

Transportation of Agricultural Products

AMS, as directed by the Farm Bills passed in 2008 and 2014, studies and reports on rural transportation issues.  The reports review transportation and its effect on rural communities, with an emphasis on agricultural transportation.  They look in depth into each of the four major modes of transportation commonly used by agriculture in the United States: trucking, railroads, barges, and ocean vessels.  

Dairy Forward Contracting

The Dairy Forward Pricing Program allows producers and producer cooperative associations to voluntarily enter into forward price contracts with milk processors.  These contracts specify the quantity of milk to be sold, the future period of sales, and the price during that period.  The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 provides the legal authority for these contracts.  The 2014 Farm Bill allows new contracts to be entered into until Sept. 30, 2018.

Pesticide Recordkeeping (Discontinued Program)

The Pesticide Recordkeeping Program’s (PRP) operations ended in September 2013 due to the elimination of program funding.  If you have questions regarding the program, please contact the AMS Public Affairs Office at (202) 720-8998.  The PRP conducted compliance and educational outreach activities related to Federal pesticide recordkeeping regulations.