pesticides, fertilizers, grade standards, mycotoxins, eco-labled products, environmental impacts, social impacts

Document Type



The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses grade standards to uniformly characterize the quality and condition of agricultural commodities. The standards are promulgated by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) division in consultation with farming industry groups. Emphasizing produce attributes such as surface defects, shape, cleanliness, color, maturity, and decay, grade standards improve the marketability of agricultural commodities by establishing a common industry language for use in contracts. Use of such a language enables wholesale buyers to know the quality of commodities without first having to inspect them, thus facilitating trade by lowering transaction costs.