Subcommittee Passes Legislation to Reauthorize the United States Grain Standards Act
(July 25, 2000)
Washington, DC -- Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Resource Conservation, and Credit led by Chairman Bill Barrett (R-NE) passed, by voice vote, legislation (H.R. 4788) providing for reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act.
"The grain inspection and weighing procedures are very important to farmers and grain elevators," Barrett said. "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."
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.
On September 30, 2000, the authorization for the collection of fees by GIPSA will expire. Since about 75% of the grain inspection budget is obtained through the collection of fees and only 25% through appropriations, Congress will have to act or inspection activities will cease.
"It is important to American Agriculture to maintain a professional and independent grain inspection service that has the trust of all participants in the grain trade," said Subcommittee Ranking Member and H.R. 4788 co-sponsor David Minge (R-MN). "It is also very important that we reauthorize this legislation in a very timely fashion."
Before final passage, the Subcommittee also accepted a clarifying amendment offered by Barrett which allows existing pilot programs to operate under present conditions, while still giving the Secretary of Agriculture latitude in implementing new pilot programs.
"This bill provides for a reasonable compromise between open competition on the one hand and strict geographic boundaries on the other," Barrett said. "It will allow grain inspectors to cross boundary lines with approval from the Secretary of Agriculture. But it will also keep official agencies in place within geographical areas and will codify certain boundary pilot programs that have been used successfully since the last reauthorization of the Grain Standards Act."
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