By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
The House unanimously approved the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 (S. 4054) on Dec. 2, following last month’s Senate approval. President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law, ensuring several existing and new provisions advocated by NGFA are included in the law for the next five years.
In a media statement issued immediately after the vote, NGFA said it particularly appreciated the leadership of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Mike Conaway, R-Texas, for their support of the reauthorization and commitment to ensuring its approval in the House on an expedited basis. The following members of Congress joined Peterson and Conaway to speak in favor of the bill on the House floor: Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., who will be the next House Agriculture Committee chair, and Reps. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Angie Craig, D-Minn., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
“This legislation, which would reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act for another five years, provides certainty while improving the official inspection and weighing system by providing more transparency, information-sharing and better data,” said NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon. “This legislation is foundationally important in providing for official grain inspection and weighing services through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, as well as that agency’s maintenance of the U.S. grain standards that are relied upon by buyers, sellers and end-users to merchandise grains and oilseeds in domestic and international markets. Ultimately, this law benefits U.S. and global consumers by enhancing the utility and efficiency of the grain marketing system.”
The bill, authored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and the committee’s ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., passed out of the committee in June before being unanimously approved by the full Senate on Nov. 16, after which the NGFA issued a statement urging prompt House approval.
FGIS establishes official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds under the authorization provided by the U.S. Grain Standards Act, which was first signed into law in 1916. The existing authorization law, which was enacted in 2015 and included provisions to ensure uninterrupted export inspections, expired Sept. 30.
In a June 23 support letter to Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, NGFA and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) supported reauthorizing all expiring provisions of the current law for another five years, including: the ability for Congress to appropriate funding for standardization and compliance activities that have broad societal benefits, including to farmers and consumers; authorization for the continued operation of the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee; and the current statutory limitation on the amount of money FGIS can spend on administrative costs not associated with direct inspection and weighing activities.
The U.S. Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 also includes several improvements advocated by NGFA and NAEGA that they said will promote increased data and information-sharing to benefit the system and its users, including:
- Requiring delegated Official state agencies to notify users of Official inspection or weighing services at least 72 hours in advance of any intent to discontinue such services;
- Ensuring FGIS user fees are directed solely to inspection and weighing services;
- Reporting requests for waivers, exceptions and intrinsic quality and food safety factors received and granted by FGIS; and
- Directing FGIS to complete a comprehensive review of the current boundaries for the officially designated grain inspection agencies in the domestic marketplace.
During the reauthorization process, NGFA and NAEGA also highlighted their concerns about ongoing non-tariff trade barriers that periodically have created uncertainty for exports of U.S. grains and oilseeds, noting that the reauthorization bill retains a provision that prohibits the “use of false or misleading grade designations” on official grade certificates for U.S. grain exports.