ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) on March 5 said it strongly supports legislation introduced in late February that promotes certainty and customer service by reinforcing congressional intent regarding the official grain inspection exceptions process for domestic facilities within the grain, feed and processing industry.

The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5070) introduced by Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois and Cheri Bustos of Illinois would allow domestic grain-handling facilities to restore official inspection service agreements they previously had with USDA-approved official grain inspection providers prior to enactment of the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) in 2015.

The problem arose in 2016, when the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — which no longer oversees the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) following Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's realignment of agencies along more functional lines — revised regulations under the USGSA based on the Agriculture Reauthorization Act of 2015. One of the legislative changes waived the geographic boundaries established for FGIS-approved official grain inspection agencies serving domestic facilities if both agreed to the waiver in writing. Unexpectedly, the revision was used by FGIS to allow incumbent providers designated by the agency to perform official inspections within USDA-established geographic territories to unilaterally end a facility’s so-called “nonuse service agreement” with a different official service provider located outside the facility’s designated geographic boundary. This resulted in FGIS revoking dozens of existing service agreements, disrupting long-standing, well-functioning agreements to provide official inspections.

To remedy this problem, Reps. Davis’ and Bustos’ legislation would reinforce congressional intent by allowing facilities to restore prior nonuse service agreements terminated by FGIS that previously were in place with official inspection providers. The two Illinois members of Congress previously led successful efforts to enact an amendment to the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill that prevented GIPSA from using funds to revoke any further official inspection service agreements between facilities and non-incumbent geographic official grain inspection agencies.

Randy Gordon president and chief executive officer of the NGFA
Randy Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the NGFA

“We appreciate Reps. Davis’ and Bustos’ leadership in acting to address this problem affecting facilities that utilize official grain inspection services throughout the domestic agricultural supply chain,” said Randy Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the NGFA. “U.S. competitiveness in domestic and global markets benefits when FGIS and its designated service providers perform market-responsive official inspection and weighing of bulk grains and oilseeds in a reliable and uninterrupted manner. The legislation proposed by Reps. Davis and Bustos would restore cost-effective and efficient official grain inspection relationships that previously existed within the domestic trade and which had been working well. NGFA strongly urges its enactment.”