ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The US Senate unanimously voted in favor of the US Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 on Nov. 16.
“The Senate has unanimously approved the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act, which will allow America to continue fostering a healthy domestic grain market and positive relationships with our trading partners,” said Pat Roberts, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “As is tradition in the Senate Agriculture Committee, we worked in a bipartisan fashion to deliver certainty, predictability, and transparency for the federal grain inspection system and its stakeholders.”
The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) establishes official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds under the authorization of the US Grain Standards Act, which was first signed into law in 1916. The existing authorization law, which was enacted in 2015 and included provisions to ensure uninterrupted export inspections, expired Sept. 30.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said it strongly supported the legislation.
“This legislation, which would reauthorize the US Grain Standards Reauthorization Act for another five years, provides certainty while improving the official inspection and weighing system through more transparency, information-sharing, and better data,” said Randy Gordon, president and chief executive officer of NGFA. “This legislation is foundationally important in providing for official grain inspection and weighing services through the US Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, as well as that agency’s maintenance of the US grain standards that are relied upon by buyers, sellers and end-users to merchandise grains and oilseeds in domestic and international markets.”
In June, the US Senate Agriculture Committee approved the bill and the NGFA and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) supported reauthorizing all expiring provisions of the current law for another five years, including:
- the ability for US Congress to appropriate funding for standardization and compliance activities that have broad societal benefits, including to farmers and consumers;
- authorization for the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee to continue operating;
- the current statutory limitation on the amount of money FGIS can spend on administrative costs not associated with direct inspection and weighing activities.
The act also includes other provisions that the NGFA and NAEGA advocated for said will promote increased data and information-sharing to benefit the system and its users, including:
- Requiring delegated state agencies to notify users of Official inspection or weighing services at least 72 hours in advance of any intent to discontinue such services;
- Ensuring FGIS user fees are directed solely to inspection and weighing services;
- Reporting requests for waivers, exceptions and intrinsic quality and food safety factors received and granted by FGIS; and
- Directing FGIS to complete a comprehensive review of the current boundaries for the officially designated grain inspection agencies in the domestic marketplace.
The NGFA and NAEGA also stressed their apprehensions about ongoing non-tariff trade barriers that have restricted exports of US grains and oilseeds, noting that the reauthorization bill retains the provision that prohibits the “use of false or misleading grade designations” on official grade certificates for US grain exports.