The American Soybean Association (ASA) commended the House of Representatives on passage of a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA), and called on the Senate to act quickly on its version of the legislation. Unless a bill is enacted by September 30, important provisions of the current USGSA will expire, putting the reliability of export inspection of soybeans and grain at risk.

“ASA applauds the House for its timely approval of this bill, which would require swift action by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) in the event of a disruption in export inspection services, as occurred at the Port of Vancouver in Washington State last summer,” said ASA President and Texas soybean farmer Wade Cowan. “ASA urges the Senate to take up its version of the legislation as soon as possible to ensure our growers and their foreign customers that the U.S. inspection system will continue to represent the ‘gold standard’ for quality exports of U.S. soybeans and grain.”

ASA and other farm organizations had urged both the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees to provide assurances in their bills to prevent another disruption in export inspection services. As a result of a labor dispute at the Port of Vancouver in 2013 and 2014, first the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and then FGIS declined to provide services in July 2014, citing concerns over inspector safety. The resulting 36-day suspension of export inspections before the WSDA resumed services last August raised major questions among producers and foreign buyers about the reliability and transparency of the U.S. inspection system.

“Following Senate action, ASA asks both chambers to quickly resolve differences between their respective versions of this legislation in order to ensure enactment of a final bill well before September,” Cowan added. “We would note that both bills require delegated state inspection services to provide advance notice of any pending withdrawal of services, and would strengthen the statutory requirement that FGIS step in to prevent a disruption of services. We simply cannot afford another situation where the reliability of our export inspection system is put at risk, which would only benefit U.S. competitors.”