Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the four principals met today to discuss outstanding issues relating to the farm bill.
Subcommittee Prepares for Reauthorization of the United States Grain Standards Act
Washington, DC -- Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Resource Conservation, and Credit received testimony from the Clinton Administration and industry representatives and reviewed issues surrounding certain authorities of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — specifically, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).
"The role of grain inspection cannot be overstated," said Subcommittee Chairman Bill Barrett (R-NE). "The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, by accurately and consistently certifying quality and providing uniform inspection and weighing, assures potential customers that they are purchasing the product they have specified."
Legal authority for the collection of fees by FGIS was last renewed in 1993, and GIPSA is currently seeking a 10-year extension through September 2010. 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 weighting or supervision of weighing of grain.
On September 30, 2000, the authorization for the collection of fees by GIPSA will expire. Since about 80% of the grain inspection budget is obtained through the collection of fees and only 20% through appropriations, Congress will have to act or activities will cease.
"In a time of depressed farm prices, it is only natural that many producers, including those in the agricultural Third District of Nebraska which I represent, have concerns about grain quality issues," Barrett said. "Nobody in the industry likes to see grain sales lost because of legitimate grain quality problems. Unfortunately, however, news stories can many times distort the complexities of grain quality and heighten the distrust of our inspection service. But distorted news stories should not prevent us from honestly looking at ways to improve our grading and inspection process."