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United States Grain Standards Act Reauthorization

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Location: Washington, DC


UNITED STATES GRAIN STANDARDS ACT REAUTHORIZATION -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2005)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill (S. 1752) to amend the United States Grain Standards Act to reauthorize that Act.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support S. 1752, a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act. The other body passed this bill by unanimous consent last week, and I look forward to its swift approval today as the act expires September 30, 2005.

This bill is identical to the language that the administration provided Congress earlier this year. The bill is a simple 10-year extension of current law. It will reauthorize the Secretary's authority to charge and collect fees to cover costs of inspection and weighing services and to receive appropriated dollars for standardization and compliance activities.

The House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management of the Committee on Agriculture held a hearing on May 24, 2005, to review the U.S. Grain Standards Act. Testimony provided on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association highlighted the need for the U.S. grain industry to remain cost-competitive for bulk exports of U.S. grains and oilseeds in the future.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Grain Sorghum Producers, and the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies all voiced support for this legislation.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act first became law in 1916. In the intervening 89 years, Congress has reauthorized and amended the U.S. Grain Standards Act so that the law could adapt to changes in grain production, grain marketing, crop diversity, competitive pressure, and fiscal constraints.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act has served agriculture and our Nation well. For nearly a century, it has provided for standard marketing terms, grades and weights and facilitated domestic and international marketing of our farmers' production. Among its many responsibilities, the Federal Grain Inspection Service establishes and maintains official grades for our Nation's crop production, promotes the uniform application of official grades, provides for the official weighing and grading at export locations, provides Federal oversight of weighing and grading done by States, and investigates complaints or discrepancies reported by importers. Passage of this bill ensures the continuity of these standards and the opportunity for our farmers to remain competitive in the world marketplace.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

I thank the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Peterson), the ranking member of the committee, for his cooperation in working with us to bring this legislation to the floor.

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Mr. Speaker, S. 1752 is a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act. The other body passed this bill by unanimous consent last week. Timely approval of this bill is important because the current law expires September 30, 2005.

This bill is identical to the language the Administration provided Congress earlier this year. This bill is a simple 10-year extension of current law.

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing on May 24, 2005 to review the U.S. Grain Standards Act. Testimony provided on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association highlighted the need for the U.S. grain industry to remain cost-competitive for bulk exports of U.S. grains and oilseeds in the future. Specifically, these organizations proposed that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) utilize third party entities to provide inspection and weighing activities at export facilities with 100 percent USDA oversight using USDA-approved standards and procedures. The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Grain Sorghum Producers, and the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies all voice support for this proposal. USDA testified that the ``proposal of the industry establishes a framework for changing the delivery of services without compromising the integrity of the official system.''

During the hearing, the Committee also learned of workforce challenges currently facing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The majority of official grain inspectors will be eligible for retirement over the next several years. Testimony presented explained that transitioning the delivery of services through attrition would minimize the impact on Federal employees.

Since the hearing, I have reviewed legislative proposals and discussed the issue of improved competitiveness with my colleagues, farm and industry organizations, and USDA. Chairman SAXBY CHAMBLISS of the Senate Agriculture Committee and I asked USDA to determine if they had the authority under the existing law to use private entities at export port locations for grain inspection and weighing services, and if they did, how would they implement this authority.

Accompanying this statement is a copy of USDA's response to our questions. The letter states that the U.S. Grain Standards Act ``currently authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to contract with private persons or entities for the performance of inspection and weighing services at export port locations.'' The letter further explains that GIPSA considers the use of this authority as an option to address future attrition within the Agency and to address expanded service demand. I fully expect USDA to use this authority in a manner that improves competitiveness of the U.S. grain industry, that maintains the integrity of the Federal grain inspection system, and that provides benefits to employees who may be impacted.

The Committee greatly appreciates the work that has gone into the reauthorization of this law and we are pleased to extend the authorization for 10 years.

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