The FPAA Grape Division and the Arizona Department of Agriculture Federal-State Inspection Service met on Monday, February 27. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss current issues and updates prior to the start of the grape season.
The Arizona Department of Agriculture is in the process of hiring approximately 100 inspectors to be ready to inspection around April 10. They are setting their focus on the warehouses distributing grapes versus the projected number of imported grapes expected. The AZDA is also currently in the testing phase of implementing electronic inspections. Once they have finalized some of the needed upgrades and changes to their IT systems and the electronic inspection system leased from Georgia, they anticipate starting some electronic inspections in the coming weeks. The process has been slow due to the reconfiguration of all systems required, such as the software and IT infrastructure. The goal of AZDA is to launch electronic inspections by tablet in a small way this season, with a more expanded rollout starting next season.
AZDA also announced that they will require a 72-hour notice for pre-season warehouse inspections. As a reminder, the AZDA is required to inspect your warehouse prior to the start of grape season, even if you previously completed an inspection the year prior. Please be sure to contact AZDA as soon as your warehouseinspection site is ready so they can complete the pre-season inspection with ample time before you receive your first shipment.
We have also attached the Master Warehouse checklist that contains the inspection site requirements for your warehouse. Lastly, we have included the Super-Lot Inspection program instructions. The Super-Lot Inspection Program is being offered at your request to help alleviate backlogs during the busy Table Grape import season. As a reminder, participation in this “alternative” program is a privilege.
Attached you will find the one-day request form for Sunday inspection service. Please use the One Day request form and make sure to submit it by 5:00 pm, the Thursday before the Sunday you need service.
There was also a discussion about the increase in post-season inspection certificate requests from the USDAMarketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD). Several members have stated that the number of entries/inspection certificates requested by MOAD has continued to rise over the last couple of years. The FPAA working with USDA MOAD, the AZDA and the Specialty Crop Inspection to troubleshoot technical issues that may be causing the increase in post-season follow ups.
AALPUM announced their Spring Policy Summit is scheduled for March 22, 2023 and will be held at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa in Tubac, AZ. There they will present their projections for the 2023 grape season and talk about other issues related to the table grape industry. During the meeting with AZDA, AALPUM explained that labor is still an issue in all of Mexico; however, they have been working with several government officials and the Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) to find ways to address tight labor markets in Mexico.