CANTALOUPE: USDA proposed to revise the application of tolerances section. NAPAR was the only organization to file comments and the Agency incorporated our suggestions into the new standard on 3/8/08.
DEWBERRIES/BLACKBERRIES: When USDA proposed revising color requirements to allow for a lesser amount of color and/or varying shades of color, NAPAR objected explaining that a berry whose entire surface is not blue or black is not fully ripened and will not ripen after it is picked. NAPAR said allowing berries with less than the “whole surface” fully colored would be to allow unripe berries into the U.S. No. 1 grade. USDA dropped its proposal.
GREENHOUSE TOMATOES:USDA proposed revising standards to allow that percentages of defects and size classifications be determined by count rather than weight. They proposed to add moldy stems as a damage defect and a damage scoring guide for skin checks. NAPAR supported the proposal and it was approved by USDA.
KALE: USDA proposed to revise the U.S. Grade Standards for Kale to allow percentages to be determined by count rather than weight and revise the application of tolerances for packages of fewer than 15 specimens. At NAPAR’s request, the agency allowed standards to be used for kale leaves and bunches of leaves in addition to plants. The proposed changes were adopted.
LEAF LETTUCE: USDA proposed a new voluntary U.S. standard for Grades of Field Grown Leaf Lettuce, providing a common language for trade and measuring value. NAPAR favored the standards, but said tolerances should be identical to those for Greenhouse Grown Leaf Lettuce and that Russet Spotting should be addressed in the tolerances section. USDA disagreed that standards should be the same for Greenhouse Grown and Field Grown, but did add Russet Spotting as a defect.
LIMES: With NAPAR’s support, USDA revised the Standards for Grades of Persian (Tahiti) Limes to allow juice content to be determined by weight, rather than volume. NAPAR advised USDA that its proposal to add the terms “Turning”, or “Mixed Color” to the grade would be confusing, and the agency made those designations optional.
MANGOS: USDA proposed new U.S. Standards for Grades of Mangos. NAPAR generally supported the initiative, but said they should allow for continued use of certain package sizes and that tolerances for decay should be lowered. USDA adopted the grade standards, but did not lower the decay tolerance. They removed the size requirements section altogether.
PARSLEY: With NAPAR’s strong support, USDA changed the standards for Parsley to allow percentages to be determined by count rather than weight. The agency also eliminated the unclassified category.
POTATOES: USDA proposed to develop en route or at destination tolerances for the U.S. No. 1 and No.2 grades, revise current tolerances in all grades, delete the “Unclassified” section, and define damage and serious damage for many defects. These defects, added to Table III include: Cuts, Clipped Ends, Elephant Hide, Flattened or Depressed Areas/Pressure Bruises, Grub Damage, Nematode (Root Knot), Rodent or Bird Damage, Russeting, Silver Scurf, Sunken Discolored Areas, and Surface Cracks. It also proposed to tighten up the scoring guidelines by adding portions of the current Inspection Instructions into the scoring guidelines for defects. Those affected include: Air Cracks, Bruises, External Discoloration, Flea Beetle Injury, Greening, Growth Cracks, Rhizoctonia, Pitted Scab, Russet Scab, Surface Scab, and Wireworm or Grass Damage.
NAPAR commented that the en route and destination tolerances impacted receivers negatively and that the overall changes will dilute the grade standard and allow lesser quality product into the marketplace. Our arguments were completely ignored and the proposal was adopted on 4/21/08.
SNAP BEANS: When USDA proposed to modify the standard for Snap Beans to allow tolerance percentages to be determined by count and not weight, NAPAR objected and said tolerance percentages should continue to be determined by weight. USDA withdrew the proposal.
SWEET CHERRIES: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service proposed to incorporate standard row sizes into the U.S. Standards for Grades for Sweet Cherries. NAPAR largely opposed this change, offering specific suggestions for necessary improvement of the proposal. USDA finally withdrew the proposal.
SWEET POTATOES: USDA proposed to add a new grade, U.S. No. 1 Petite, to the grade standards for sweet potatoes. All standards for quality and condition that apply to U.S. No. 1 would apply to the new grade, except for size. With NAPAR’s support, the changes were adopted.
WATERMELONS: USDA proposed to define “seedless watermelons” as those with 16 or fewer mature seeds on the face when cut into four equal sections. They also proposed to allow watermelons to vary by only three pounds above or below the stated average weight. NAPAR supported creation of the standard, but said it was too lenient and that the definition should be zero mature seeds for small (10 lbs. or less) watermelons and four or less seeds for those over 10 lbs. USDA implemented a standard providing for 10 instead of 16 mature seeds, and adopted the 3-pound variance, supported by NAPAR.