Despite ongoing attempts from the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), U.S. Wheat Associates and many other concerned groups, officials at the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have yet to take any action to deal with the stoppage of grain exports from the Port of Vancouver, Wash.
On July 1, 2014, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) decided it would no longer fulfill its obligation to provide official grain inspection and weighing services at the Pacific Northwest port. Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration officials have cited alleged safety concerns for their workers at the port, which is being picketed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as part of an ongoing labor dispute.
NAWG and other industry groups affected by the stoppage have shared with USDA that the damage this issue has already caused in lost confidence with foreign buyers, will only be intensified when the summer wheat harvest in the region reaches its zenith in the oncoming days.
“The ongoing lack of response by USDA, in addition to their refusal to act upon their congressionally mandated responsibility and obligation to provide official inspection services is both unprecedented and unacceptable,” said NAWG President Paul Penner, a wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kan, “If this problem is not solved immediately, countless farmers that export grain through the Port of Vancouver could be dumping their wheat on the ground.”
NAWG and USW believe that under the U.S. Grain Standards Act, Congress vested in the Secretary of Agriculture the obligation to provide official inspection services at export locations to facilitate efficient and cost-effective marketing of U.S. grains and oilseeds — even if an authorized state agency fails to do so.