House Passes Grain Standards and Warehouse Improvement Act of 2000
Washington, DC — Last night, the House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, legislation (H.R. 4788) sponsored by Representative Bill Barrett (R-NE) to reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act and to modernize the U.S. Warehouse Act.
"This legislation will bring grain inspection and the use of warehouse facilities into the 21st century, all at no net cost to the taxpayer," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said. "It provides for a consistent inspection of grains and the ability to utilize electronic receipts and documents for all major commodities, which will foster more reliable, competitive and efficient commerce within the agricultural sector."
Among other programs, H.R. 4788 would provide authority for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — and specifically, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).
Legal authority for the collection of fees by FGIS was last renewed in 1993, and this bill provides GIPSA 5-year reauthorization through September 2005. Fees paid to FGIS cover administrative and supervisory expenses associated with grain inspection as well as fees for the testing of equipment utilized in performing official inspection, official weighing or supervision of weighing of grain.
"The grain standards provisions ensure confidence to our producers, grain elevators, and overseas buyers," said General Farm Commodities, Resource Conservation and Credit Subcommittee Chairman Bill Barrett (R-NE). "Grain inspection and weighing procedures are very important to farmers and grain elevators. It is critical that the Department of Agriculture continue to thoroughly inspect grain for purity — or in the case of official agencies, USDA needs to provide vigilant oversight. This program provides official inspection so that customers are delivered a quality product."
H.R. 4788 also makes several revisions to the Warehouse Act, including:
authorizing and standardizing electronic documents and allowing their transfer from buyer to seller across state and international boundaries;
authorizing warehouse operators to enter into contracts or agreements with depositors to allocate available storage space; and
protecting the integrity of state warehouse laws and regulations from federal preemption.
"Like any business today, farmers are using computers and the Internet for a variety of purposes, including financial management systems and market information," said U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). "It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that all segments of our economy are technologically efficient. It is vital to empower producers and farmers by providing them with the technological tools to do business electronically. Electronic warehouse receipts, and H.R. 4788, are a step in the right direction."
"Given today's world market, it is important that our farmers and commodity merchants have the best technical support possible to help them compete in that marketplace," added Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX).