Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia.
Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia.

When trading commodities on the market, it is critical that buyers and sellers across the supply chain speak the same trade language.  For meat products, large volume buyers – ranging from the federal government to schools, restaurants and hotels – reference the U.S. Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) when making their purchases.

For the first time, the IMPS and poultry and turkey trade descriptions, which are maintained by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), have been translated into Spanish.  These documents are part of a continued effort to expand the use of meat specifications used in the United States, Canada and Mexico for trade.  You can also find French translations of these documents through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Last year, the United States and Canada agreed to harmonize the terminology used for wholesale meat cuts by adopting the IMPS as the standard meat nomenclature, establishing the specifications as the foundation for a North American approach.  Meat production in North America is highly integrated, and using the same trade language reduces the costs of maintaining separate inventories and facilitates efficient trade.

In early 2011, the United States and Canada created the U.S.- Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to accelerate trade and travel between the two nations.  The RCC goal is to establish clear, consistent standards to identify products to make it easier for industries to do business.  Harmonizing the trade language used for meat purchases was a critical success of the RCC initiative.

There are both long-term and short-term benefits to the industry.  In the short-term, this project allows meat traders to simplify their labels which will decrease barriers at the border.  In the long-term, this project should allow for more efficient trade of red meat.

In addition to Canada, the Mexican meat industry has also shown interest in utilizing the IMPS for cross border trade.  By having these documents available in Spanish, more traders will have access to this trade language, both at home and abroad.  Adopting a common trade language is beneficial to industry on both sides of the border, and enhances trade opportunities for American producers.

While facilitating trade, these Spanish translations could also assist Hispanic farmers in the United States.  According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there were over 99,000 Hispanic farmers in the United States, a 21 percent increase since 2007, when the last agriculture census was conducted.  Hispanic producers in the United States sold $8.6 billion in agricultural products and operated 21 million acres of farmland in 2012 alone.

Translating the IMPS and turkey and poultry trade documents into Spanish is just one of the many ways that AMS facilitates opportunities for the U.S. agriculture industry.