(Posted Thu. May 7th, 2015)
This week, the National Corn Growers Association joined with other commodity groups to support testimony stressing the importance of the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. The testimony, presented by American Soybean Association Director Bill Gordon, voiced farmers’ support the U.S. grain inspection and weighing system, as it offers certainty to buyers in overseas markets, while also asking the Committee to look at ways to minimize disruptions to this important federal service.
In addition to NCGA and ASA, the statement was also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Barley Growers Association.
In the testimony submitted, the group stated that “it is critical that the requirement for mandatory official inspection of exported grains and oilseeds under the Grain Standards Act be maintained.” Noting that the vast majority of the provisions up for renewal should be noncontroversial and have broad bipartisan support, the group called on Congress to take their actions one step further by ensuring FGIS would step in to ensure the reliability and reputation of the U.S. inspection and weighing system in the event state-level inspections experience disruptions.
In explaining the necessity for such new provisions, the testimony cited the interruption in inspection services that occurred last July and August when the Washington State Department of Agriculture, one of five officially-delegated state agencies, refused to have its employees cross the picket lines of longshoremen at the Port of Vancouver. As this refusal was followed by a 36-day delay before FGIS was willing to have its own employees take over inspections at affected grain export terminals, an action which was not taken after the dispute was settled in August and state inspections resumed, the disruption caused great difficulty on the farmers and international customers dependent upon these services.
To read the full testimony, click here.
NCGA will continue to work with other commodity groups as the reauthorization process progresses not only to maintain the current system but also to try and find ways in which disruptions can be minimized and, thus, trade can be improved. This work serves as another important piece of building export demand by opening markets and ensuring the most efficient system possible.