Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, held a public hearing on April 22 to review the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act.
The U.S. Grain Standards Act, which was first passed in 1916, authorizes the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to establish official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds, and requires that exported grains and oilseeds be officially weighed and inspected. It also establishes rules for the voluntary inspection of domestic grain.
“Reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act will ensure an accurate, reliable, consistently available, and cost-effective grain inspection and weighing system,” Chairman Crawford said. “Our farmers and the companies that purchase their grain and oilseeds depend on these standards for grades and weights to remain competitive in the world market.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation urged Congress to reauthorize the Act, with South Carolina Farm Bureau President David Winkles calling the act critical to ensuring the integrity and reliability of America’s grain trade, in his testimony before the House Agriculture subcommittee.
“Our grain inspection system has earned worldwide recognition as being reliable and impartial,” Winkles said. But U.S. grain trade was jeopardized when a labor dispute led to the shutdown of grain inspection services out of the Port of Vancouver last summer. These disruptions bring chaos to the marketplace and threaten customer relationships that have taken years to build: farmers, local businesses and consumers around the world pay the price.
The Farm Bureau believes it is essential to have a contingency plan in place to ensure that official grain inspection activities still occur regardless of service disruptions. “We need to have a reliable third party inspection and grading program for emergency situations to assure both seller and buyer that every contract can be expected to be fulfilled in a timely manner,” Winkles said.
Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, “I appreciate representatives from industry sharing their thoughts on how the current law could be improved. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, we must maintain and strengthen the marketing infrastructure that allows our grain exporters to remain competitive in the global marketplace. I look forward to moving legislation.”