WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) on April 30 applauded the House Agriculture Committee's approval by a voice vote of legislation that would reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act for five years - through Sept. 30, 2020.

The act provides authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the standards under which grain is traded and marketed, and to provide mandatory official inspections of U.S. export grain. 

“Our organizations have a long history of supporting a federal official grain inspection and weighing system, which facilitates the ability of the U.S. grain marketing system to provide a safe, competitive and sustainable supply of grains, oilseeds and grain products to U.S. and world consumers,” NGFA and NAEGA said.

The bill preserves the vital process for providing the market with terms and methods used to make quality determinations using the U.S. grain standards, the groups said.

“This process is important to maintaining an efficient and transparent system of price discovery for commodities covered by this law, and is a very important contributor, as are other activities of USDA's Federal Grain Inspection Service, to the success of U.S. agriculture and its global competitiveness,” they said.

NGFA and NAEGA said they were also encouraged that the bill retains and contains further enhancements of the management of the national grain inspection and weighing system.  The bill would make several major improvements that will bring more transparency and accountability to the process USDA uses to delegate to state agencies its authority to conduct mandatory official inspections at export facilities.

For the first time, these delegated state agencies will be required to undergo the same notice-and-comment rulemaking process that applies to domestic state and private entities that provide official inspection services in the domestic market. 

In addition, the bill reiterates the responsibility for USDA to provide official grain inspection services at export elevators on an uninterrupted basis, and contains triggers that allow for waivers of the official inspection requirement and empowers exporters to use other state-delegated official agencies if grain inspection services are disrupted and USDA fails to restore such service within specified deadlines. 

The bill also includes an important change to the flawed formula now used by USDA to set user fees charged to export elevators, which we estimate has resulted in up to $12 million in overcharges, the groups said.

"The NGFA and NAEGA continue to believe strongly that this legislation should require USDA to utilize qualified inspectors employed by independent third-party entities to perform official inspections at export facilities under the same licensing and oversight that applies to entities that provide official inspection services to domestic elevators,” they said.