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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet's knowledge and experience work for you.

The Food and Agriculture Sector: Vital to the Economy and Quality of Life


The Food and Agriculture Sector: Vital to the Economy and Quality of Life

The food and agriculture industry is a vital part of our modern lives. From the food we eat to the related products we buy from local farms and businesses, every person necessarily interacts with the agriculture sector on a daily basis; it is a big contributor to the national economy and our collective well being. Every year, the USDA obligates roughly $4.6 billion for products and services; of this, $510 million is allocated to government commercial purchase card transactions (also known as “P-Cards”, which allow agencies to go out and buy products directly from a source, without having to go through a formal bid process or enter into a contract). More than 55 percent of what the USDA buys every year involves procurement of food commodities by the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Kansas City Commodity Office of the Farm Service Agency.[i]

Types of Food Products and Services Purchased

Along with subsistence and agricultural commodities (including meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, sugar, nuts, grains, etc.), the USDA solicits bids for all types of products and services, such as:

  • Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property
  • Construction of Structures and Facilities
  • Housekeeping Services
  • Instruments and Laboratory Equipment and Supplies
  • Architect and Engineering Services; Information Technology
  • Special Studies and Analyses
  • Professional, Administrative and Management Support Services
  • Operation of Government-Owned Facilities
  • Agricultural Machinery and Equipment
  • Natural Resources and Conservation Services
  • Chemicals and Chemical Products
  • Environmental Services, Studies and Analytical Support
  • Medical, Dental or Veterinary Equipment and Supplies
  • Modification of Equipment
  • Clothing
  • Aerial Photographic Services
  • Night Vision and Other Communication and Detection Equipment
  • Printing, Duplicating and Bookbinding Equipment
  • Books, Maps and Other Printed Matter
  • Warehousing and Storage Services
  • Education and Training

Bidding on USDA Contracts

In order to bid on USDA contracts, vendors must first be approved by the agency. To become an eligible vendor you will need to submit a vendor application package. According to the USDA’s established steps for becoming a USDA foods vendor, you must include the following information in your vendor application:

  • System for Award Management (SAM) registration
  • Business Status (as indicated in SAM)
  • Completed WBSCM Vendor Registration Form
  • Company Letter (certifying ability to perform)
  • Three (3) Letters of Reference (from customers your company provided similar products to)
  • Business Type (and similar details)
  • Current Dun and Bradstreet Report (business information report)
  • Most Recent Financial Statements

Finding Agriculture Bid Opportunities

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) posts contract opportunities for over 200 different USDA foods on an ongoing basis. These bids can be found on the Agricultural Marketing Service website and fedbizopps.gov , followed by a solicitation on the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system. Of course, there are high standards that apply to the type of foods allowed; make sure to review the USDA product specifications and requirements before responding to an opportunity. If you’re an approved vendor and would like to submit a bid, you must do so through the WBSCM system.

Food & Agricultural Programs and Farmers Markets

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP)

The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) was created to “to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products, and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.”[ii]  USDA states that the program matches funds that are provided to state Departments of Agriculture, agencies and agricultural experiment stations through grants. Eligible projects should be based on specific research goals, which may include increased sales of value added meat products, fresh and processed foods, improvement of local and regional food systems, and advancements in horticulture, forestry, aquaculture and bioenergy. All awards are given on a competitive basis and will not be awarded to vendors who submit a proposal for a single business or individual.   

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are perfect venues for finding fresh and local produce. With several thousand farmer’s markets held regularly around the U.S., these grassroots food distribution outlets provide consumers with a substitute for standard retail options, allowing them to purchase conventional and organic products at lower prices. Farmer’s markets also help boost regional and local economies and create new jobs: For every $1 million in revenue earned at a farmer’s market, thirteen full time jobs are created, compared to only three full time jobs created for those who don’t sell locally. Most consumers who shop at farmer’s markets say they do so to support the local economy. States that encourage farmers markets have seen a positive impact on their economies, earning an average of an additional million dollars a year thanks to tax revenue generated by sales at the markets and at local businesses around the markets.

Agriculture: An Important Part of Our Lives

Farming and agricultural production is important to the sustainability of our communities, but we are unable to predict how or when certain situations may arise that can damage these systems, for example floods, droughts or crop contamination. When disaster strikes, crops can be affected or ruined; in turn, prices will rise for whatever is left of the crop, hurting individuals and the larger economy. This is why government invests in protecting farms by creating specific programs to help farmers, ensuring that their livelihoods will  not jeopardized by unforeseen events. Agriculture is just one part of the machinery of life, but without the ability to sustainably grow food we would face catastrophic problems as a society. This is why it’s important not only for government to lend a hand to farmers in need, but also for individuals to keep supporting local farms and markets in their communities.

Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com


[i] n.p. USDA Office of Procurement & Property Management. Types of Products and Services Purchased. Dm.usda.gov. n.d. web. 10 May 2016

[ii] n.p. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Ams.usda.gov. n.d. web. 10 May 2016

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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet’s knowledge and experience work for you.

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