Jess McCluer: U.S. Grain Standards Act

Over the past year, NGFA has worked with its colleagues at the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) and in Congress to craft policies pursuant to the U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA).

The policies are based on several NGFA and NAEGA recommendations that will help strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the official inspection and weighing system, enhance the competitive position of U.S. grains and oilseeds in world markets, and retain the integrity of U.S. inspection results.

During a June 24 business meeting, the Senate Agriculture Committee favorably reported the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 (USGSRA 2020), which includes the following improvements advocated by NGFA and NAEGA:

  • Requiring Delegated States to notify users of official inspection or weighing services at least 72 hours in advance of any intent to discontinue service. The 2015 reauthorization of the USGSA required the delegated states to provide such pre-notification to the Secretary of Agriculture, and USGSRA 2020 extends this same requirement to the direct users of Official services that would be most affected by such actions so they can make appropriate plans.
  • Ensuring FGIS user fees are directed solely to inspection and weighing services. The user fees that grain handlers pay for inspection and weighing services should be directed only toward those activities. We appreciate Congress consistently appropriating funds for establishing and maintaining the U.S Grain Standards, as well as for internal monitoring of FGIS’ grain quality-assessment methods and compliance activities – all of which have broad societal benefits.
  • Reporting requests for waivers, exceptions, and other specific services received and granted by FGIS. This information-sharing will increase transparency and help users better understand the demands on the official system, which will be beneficial especially for c those who pay the user fees that finance the system.
  • Reauthorizing the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee. This advisory committee provides expert advice to FGIS in helping the agency fulfill its core mission of ensuring that official inspections are performed in a reliable and uninterrupted manner to facilitate U.S. grain exports.
  • Directing FGIS to complete a comprehensive review of the current boundaries for the officially designated grain inspection agencies in the domestic marketplace. Such a review has not occurred since FGIS was established in 1976, and the resulting data will inform the agency and stakeholders about potential efficiencies and improvements to the system.
  • Reauthorizing all expiring provisions of the current law for another five years. These include the ability for Congress to collect appropriations for standardization and compliance activities, authorization for the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee to operate, as well as the current statutory limitation on administrative costs.

NGFA will continue to work with both the Senate and the House of Representatives with the goal of passing the USGSRA before the law expires on Sept. 30, 2020.

Reprinted from Grain Journal July/August 2020 Issue