Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman has further toughened standards for the cleanliness of U.S. wheat exports destined for overseas food aid.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered the maximum acceptable dockage level for wheat purchased by the Commodity Credit Corporation and used for international food assistance from 0.8 to 0.7%. Glickman also said USDA is planning to further tighten the acceptable dockage level to 0.6%, in fiscal year 2002, and to 0.5%, in fiscal year 2003.

"The Nebraska wheat Board has been working on a 'clean wheat initiative' for the past couple of years with wheat commissions in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas," said Randy Peters, McCook, chairman. "USDA held a public hearing last winter in Washington, DC, on clean wheat, and the wheat board testified on the necessity for providing cleaner wheat for the export market. The board also provided partial funding to bring international buyers to Washington for the hearing to speak on the need for grain cleaning.

"This recent action by USDA will help make U.S. wheat producers more competitive in the long run. Food aid recipients will receive a better quality product and this change puts USDA's purchase requirements in line with many of the more quality conscious buyers around the world," continued Peters.

Dockage includes all matter other than wheat that must be removed prior to milling the wheat into flour. USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration measures and reports dockage on each export shipment.

CCC purchases for government donation programs historically have been at the 1% dockage level, the level often used in U.S. commercial purchases. In June, Glickman announced that the U.S. would require a dockage level of 0.8% or less for future wheat purchases for foreign food assistance.

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