May 05, 2016

05/05/2016: NGFA, NAEGA submit recommendations to GIPSA on implementing changes to US Grain Standards Act
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The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) recently submitted a detailed, joint statement urging the US Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's (GIPSA) to make several changes to its proposed rule to implement reforms made by Congress last year to the US Grain Standards Act (USGSA).  

"The reforms made to GIPSA's operations as part of the Reauthorisation Act are designed to restore much-needed continuity, predictability and ongoing improvement of the important official inspection and weighing services provided by GIPSA's Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS)," said NGFA President Randy Gordon and NAEGA President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Martin.

"Several of the amendments made to the USGSA by Congress under the Reauthorisation Act are the most significant changes to the statute in nearly 20 years.  US competitiveness in global markets, as well as stakeholders ranging from farmers to end-users, benefit when FGIS and the State agencies to which it delegates official inspection authority at export port locations provide state-of-the-art, market-responsive official inspection and weighing, and do so in a reliable, uninterrupted, consistent and cost-effective manner."

With some notable exceptions, NGFA and NAEGA generally supported the proposed changes. However, the grain groups urged the following significant changes to the GIPSA proposal:

  • Modify the proposed definition of "emergency" in the rulemaking to recognise that the law requires USDA to issue waivers from official inspection and weighing certificates under circumstances other than emergencies, provided the buyer and seller agree and the waiver does not impair the objectives of the USGSA. Further, the groups objected to GIPSA's proposal to limit the definition of "emergency" to "conditions outside the control" of GIPSA or its delegated state agencies - a potentially giant loophole that Congress did not authorise in the law;
  • Reduce official inspection and weighing fees charged at both domestic and export facilities, since the quantity of funds in FGIS's operating reserve currently exceeds reasonable levels; and
  • Add new language to require that facilities operating at export port locations be notified at the same time as the secretary of agriculture if a delegated state agency utilises the new USGSA provision to provide 72 hours' advance notice to USDA that it intends to discontinue providing official inspection service.
A separate letter to GIPSA signed by 15 national organisations and state and regional associations affiliated with NGFA supporting the joint NGFA-NAEGA comments states that the fundamental reforms of GIPSA's operations are part of the industry's principal objective to ensure that the kind of disruptions in export shipments resulting from the intermittent withdrawal of official services by the state of Washington that occurred during 2013-14 at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., never recur.

View the NGFA and NAEGA's full comments HERE and the letter supporting the comments from the affiliates and national agribusiness groups HERE.

Visit the NGFA site HERE

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