Kansas City Tour gave insight into science, research side of agriculture
Kansas Farmers Union hosted a tour of three Kansas City facilities that impact agriculture every day: USDA’s National Grain Center, Kansas City Board of Trade and Region 7 EPA Science and Technology Center.
The day started off at USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service National Grain Center, where they determine the standards for grain grading and measurements for the U.S.
“FGIS was born to oversee that process (U.S. Grain Standards Act) and insure that there was integrity in the grain grading process,” Mary Alonzo, the Center’s director, said. “What we do here in the grain center is we establish the standard and the method that are used for grain grading. What we do in the U.S. often sets the standard for the entire world, as to how the grain is marketed at an international level.”
Attendees toured several labs inside the Center and had the opportunity to talk with the employees who set those standards. They saw where grains are graded (every U.S. grain except rice) and where the master measurement equipment is maintained.
As one tour guide stated, “the grading lab makes sure every human sees grains the same way, and the equipment lab makes sure every machine sees grains the same way.”
They also toured the labs where moisture, protein and micro-toxins/pesticide residues are measured. The micro-toxin lab makes sure the micro-toxin test kits are working and that users are getting the correct results.
The moisture meter lab develops calibrations for the standard for 15 major grains that are used at grain elevators in the U.S. Protein levels are calibrated on a machine that measures nitrogen.
After enjoying some Kansas City barbecue, the group viewed the Kansas City Board of Trade floor. The facility will be moving to Chicago on June 28 after over 150 years in Kansas City.
“The history behind KCBT is important to every producer and consumer, and I hope that history is preserved in some fashion where it can be appreciated and enjoyed by many,” Nick Levendofsky, KFU Special Projects Coordinator, said.
The final stop on the tour was EPA’s Science and Technology Center in Kansas City, Kan. The facility is full of labs with $4.3 million in equipment that generate data for Region 7 (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri). The Center handles 26,000 different analysis each year.
Due to the possibility of dangerous chemicals, the group was only allowed to view the labs through a window. Although, they did get to tour one lab where fish and insects are collected to analyze water quality.
“Victory is not having to test fish tissue,” Mike Davis, lab director, said about monitoring contaminated waters.
After walking around the Center, the group received updates about SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure) and the Pesticide Program. The group also had the chance to ask questions of the Regional Ag Advisor, Damon Frizzell.
SPCC only affects containers over 1,320 gallons. These containers have to provide secondary containment to prevent fuel from contaminating water. There are over 60,000 facilities that are regulated, Mark Aaron, EPA Region 7 SPCC Coordinator, said.
Aaron said the EPA only regulates those with a potential impact to surface water and inspects those that pose the greatest threat or are reported.
For information about Kansas Farmers Union and its’ upcoming events, visit kansasfarmersunion.org.