An agricultural commodities inspector ensures that health and safety standards and laws are upheld by any business or operation that processes or produces food. Their duties involve a number of responsibilities, including the collection of samples for testing, monitoring food quality, inspecting the sanitation of a facility, and writing thorough reports to document their findings. Some of these professionals have an associate's degree, although this isn't required, and on-the-job training is often provided.
All businesses that produce or process food need to be monitored by agricultural commodities inspectors. These workers uphold the government standards of health and safety to protect the public from consuming tainted meat, fruit and vegetables. They perform a challenging but important job. The U.S. Department of Labor's O'Net OnLine reported that more than half of these workers entered the profession with a high school diploma. Smaller numbers had completed some college or earned associate's degrees.
|Career||Agricultural Commodities Inspector|
|Required Education||A high school diploma and on-the-job training or an associate's degree with courses in biology, chemistry and agricultural engineering|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||2% (for all Agricultural Inspectors)|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2019)*||$45,490 (for all Agricultural Inspectors)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for Agricultural Commodities Inspectors
Agricultural commodities inspectors, more commonly called agricultural inspectors, work with businesses to ensure that they meet with the health standards set forth by state and federal governments. They understand the laws and regulations to help enforce companies to stay in compliance with them. For all types of businesses that produce food, meat, fruits and vegetables, inspectors thoroughly examine their processing locations and import and export practices. They monitor the feed and care of farm animals to determine the health of livestock and prevent the potential contamination of meat.
Federal and state governments often employ agricultural inspectors, but private industries may hire them as consultants. They can help companies fulfill their legal obligations to conform to government standards. Other aspects of the job may involve:
- Collecting samples to test for diseases or ingredient levels
- Writing detailed reports on findings
- Monitoring quality of food
- Inspecting a facility's cleanliness and safety practices
- Weighing, grading, sealing and labeling products
The work of an agricultural commodities inspector can be very stressful. They deal with challenging situations and difficult individuals because of the effect their work can have on a business' finances. For instance, an inspector may find a plant in violation of the way food is being processed, which can lead to complete overhauls in how the facility operates. A considerable financial investment on a company's behalf may be required in order to enact the necessary changes. Some of the work that agricultural inspectors do could result in a business having to:
- Halt food production
- Close a facility
- Increase payroll
- Take action against employees
These professionals can travel regularly and work inconsistent, long hours in odd locales, such as meat-processing plants, docked boats and farms. They may even be called on as witnesses or experts in legal disputes when matters can't be resolved without the assistance of a court of law. The work they do helps the public consume quality food.
Career Prospects and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of jobs for agricultural inspectors is expected to increase slower than national average from 2019-2029. In May 2019, the BLS reported that agricultural inspectors in the 90th percentile or higher earned $70,320 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $28,100 or less per year.
An agricultural commodities inspector can face many stressful situations, as their decisions can have significant impacts on the financial stability of a company. Hours can be irregular and involve traveling to unusual locations or appearing in a court of law to provide testimony. This job is expected to have a minimal growth through 2029.