The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Resource Conservation and Credit Chairman Bill Barrett, R-NE, and Ranking Member David Minge, D-MN, have introduced legislation (HR 4788) providing for reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act.

Among other programs and agencies, HR 4788 would provide authority for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)--and specifically, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).

"Effective grain inspection is a powerful tool for farmers," said Barrett. "The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration accurately certifies quality and provides uniform inspection and weighing, and is heavily relied upon by potential customers who want to know they are purchasing the product they want."

Legal authority for the collection of fees by FGIS was last renewed in 1993, and the bill provides GIPSA five-year reauthorization through September, 2005. Fees paid to FGIS cover administrative and supervisory expenses associated with grain inspection, as well as fees for the testing of equipment utilized in performing official inspection, official weighting or supervision of weighing of grain.

"It is important to American agriculture to maintain a professional and independent grain inspection service that has the trust of all participants in the grain trade," Minge said. "It also is very important that we reauthorize this legislation in a very timely fashion."

On Sept. 30, 2000, the authorization for the collection of fees by GIPSA will expire. Since about 80% of the grain inspection budget is obtained through the collection of fees and only 20% through appropriations, Congress will have to act or inspection activities will cease.

"With commodity prices as low as they are, it only is natural that many producers have concerns about grain quality issues," Barrett said. "The complexities of grain quality are truly vast, and the best way to ensure quality and to uphold the integrity of this system is to pass this important legislation, so the service's activities continue uninterrupted."

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