07.31.19

Chairman Roberts Gathers Insight from Variety of Grain Inspection Stakeholders

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  In preparation for reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to gather stakeholder perspectives.

“Maintaining the certainty and predictability of the grain inspection and weighing system is key for the successful flow of grain and oilseeds—from their origin at farms across the country to their eventual destinations, including critical export markets,” said Chairman Roberts.

“The witnesses we will hear from represent different perspectives in the grain and oilseed value chain—a farmer, an inspector, a grain handler, and an exporter.  Today’s hearing gives us a chance to hear directly from stakeholders on what is working well and where we might consider making improvements to the U.S. Grain Standards Act.”

To watch the hearing and read testimony, click here.

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts’ opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning.  I call this meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry to order.

This hearing on reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act is an important step in continuing the Committee’s work to reauthorize programs in our jurisdiction.

Already this year, we have held hearings to advance our work on reauthorizing Child Nutrition programs as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

Today, we will examine the importance of the U.S. grain inspection system, hear directly from key stakeholders, and discuss provisions in the Grain Standards Act that will expire on September 30, 2020 without Congressional action. 

The members of this Committee know that the farm economy and global grain trade face unique challenges. 

Maintaining the certainty and predictability of the grain inspection and weighing system is key for the successful flow of grain and oilseeds—from their origin at farms across the country to their eventual destinations, including critical export markets.

For over one hundred years, the U.S. Grain Standards Act has authorized the Department of Agriculture to establish marketing standards for grains and oilseeds. These official standards, set by regulations, define each grain, each class of grain, and the numerical grades of specific physical characteristics.

In the 1970s, after irregularities in grain inspection and weighing led to grand jury investigations and indictments, there were major reforms to the Grain Standards Act to ensure the reliability and quality of U.S. grains and oilseeds.

After disruptions of export inspections in 2014, the Grain Standards Act was further modified to require the Secretary of Agriculture to take immediate action to maintain export inspections and to provide daily updates to Congress.

Transparency is also an important step to continue certainty and predictability in the grain inspection and weighing system. 

Most of the 2015 reauthorization has been implemented as anticipated.  However, Congress did not intend for the Federal Grain Inspection Service to allow for the unilateral cancellation of many of the existing exceptions to the geographical boundaries for domestic inspections.

A provision in the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act allowed for a restoration of the previous exceptions.  This serves as a reminder of the careful consideration we must take during the upcoming reauthorization to avoid unintended consequences.

The witnesses we will hear from represent different perspectives in the grain and oilseed value chain—a farmer, an inspector, a grain handler, and an exporter. 

Today’s hearing gives us a chance to hear directly from stakeholders on what is working well and where we might consider making improvements to the U.S. Grain Standards Act. 

I also look forward to hearing from our witnesses regarding their experiences with the Federal Grain Inspection Service since it has been realigned under the Agricultural Marketing Service.

Thank you to our witnesses for traveling to Washington and providing testimony before the Committee on such an important issue. 

I look forward to hearing from each of you. 

I am confident that the Committee will once again work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that our U.S. grain system continues to facilitate reliable U.S. grain exports for years to come.

This hearing is the first step in this process. 

I now recognize Senator Stabenow for any opening remarks. 

-30-

Press Contact

Meghan Cline