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Federal Grain Inspection

There are different ways by which grain inspections are performed at the federal level.  The main statutes that provide different ways and methods for grain inspection are as follows:

  • Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration;
  • Grain Standards Act;
  • Agricultural Marketing Act;
  • Food Security Act.

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (“GIPSA”) facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture.  GIPSA is part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (“USDA”) marketing and regulatory programs, which are working to ensure a productive and competitive global marketplace for the U.S. agricultural products.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act (“USGSA”) authorizes the grain inspection, packing and stockyard administration.  The mandatory requirement instituted by the USGSA is that all U.S. grain sold by grade in foreign commerce must be officially inspected and graded.  The primary objective of the official US standards for grain is to certify the quality of grain as accurately as practicable.

It is to be noted that the USGSA makes official certification mandatory.  The exporting of grain sold by grade must be inspected and weighed.  The USGSA provides for the establishment of official U.S. grain standards in order to determine and describe the physical and biological properties of the grain during the inspection.  However, making, issuing, altering, forging, or counterfeiting any official certificate, official form, or official mark is prohibited under the USGSA.  Further, a person who commits any offense prohibited under the USGSA is subject to the general penal statutes relating to crimes and offenses against the U.S. and is guilty of a felony.

Similarly, the Agricultural Marketing Act (“Act”) was introduced as a measure to stop the downward twisting of crop prices.  The Act aimed at helping the farmers in buying, selling, and storing agricultural surpluses.  It introduced several federal programs to provide financial guarantee to farmers.  The Act introduced schemes for farmers to organize themselves and their markets to survive oversupply and falling crop prices.

It is to be noted that the Act created a federal farm board and the board adopted some methods to limit the falling of crop prices.  However, the board failed to stop the steady decline in crop prices.  Gradually, the powers of the board were transferred to the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration.  The Farm Credit Administration is an independent agency in the executive branch of the government.

Likewise, the Food Security Act contains provisions designed to discourage the conversion of wetlands into non-wetland areas.  These provisions are commonly referred to “Swampbuster” provisions.  According to the Food Security Act, farmers who plant commodity crops, after a certain date prescribed by the statute on lands that were converted from a wetland to a non-wetland condition by a corps project will trigger “Swampbuster” considerations, which may lead to the USDA program ineligibilities.

Inside Federal Grain Inspection