Testifying before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Wednesday in Washington, D.C., American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Bill Gordon called on the committee to help ensure that work stoppages and lockouts do not affect grain inspections under the Grain Standards Act.
Congress is considering reauthorization of the 1976 act that requires official inspections for all export shipments.
Gordon said the soybean industry and its foreign customers depend on a reliable and transparent export inspection and marketing system.
“It is critical that the requirement for mandatory official inspection of exported grains and oilseeds under the Grain Standards Act be maintained,” Gordon said. “In addition, there must be no question that, in the event of a disruption of services, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) will continue to be required to step in to ensure the reliability and reputation of the U.S. inspection and weighing system.”
Gordon said last summer’s longshoremen strike at the Port of Vancouver disrupted inspection of shipments for more than a month before the State of Washington, which had been given responsibility to carry out grain inspections at the port by FGIS, resumed its duties.
He said the committee should ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) whether it has discretion to clarify when and how it will act to resolve a disruption of export inspection services by delegated state agencies.
"If this discussion is in any way inconclusive, we recommend the committee strengthen the language in the act requiring FGIS to take action according to a fixed timetable based on a number of hours rather than days or weeks," Gordon said. “We further recommend that any state agency that withdraws services be suspended until the USDA completes a review that confirms the agency is capable of resuming services without further interruption.”
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American Soybean Association 12125 Woodcrest Executive Dr St Louis, MO 63141
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