America is a nation blessed by agricultural bounty. Unfortunately, that blessing comes with price-suppressing surpluses being the norm for most of the past century with occasional periods of short stocks, and temporary prosperity for the nation’s grain farmers. Margins are tight and every penny counts.
Recently I started receiving calls from producers who were experiencing devastating price discounts for wheat – 3 cents per 10th of a pound of test weight below 60.1 pounds – resulting in a 33 cent per bushel discount for 59 pound wheat. At today’s prices, that is approaching at or very near a ten percent discount on wheat that has a test weight one full pound above the U.S. No. 1 wheat grade standards minimum.
USDA has many robust programs to meet the needs of American farmers. The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) provides no grants or loans, but it plays a role in the demand for American grain by ensuring the integrity of our inspection system. FGIS preserves confidence among buyers around the nation, and around the world. It also works to ensure that farmers are fully informed about grain grading, sampling and standards.
FGIS staff at the National Grain Center produced a convenient Quick Facts for Producers information card detailing standards for each grade of corn, wheat, sorghum and soybeans, as well as rules for determining factors such as test weight. GIPSA is distributing these cards liberally so that farmers can reference official grain standards, sampling and grading rules at their fingertips.
A little-known, but valuable fact contained on the card is that test weight is determined after foreign material has been removed. The card also includes web links and a toll-free hotline number for farmers to contact FGIS and learn more about the official grading and inspection system.
GIPSA is working collaboratively with USDA’s Farm Service Agency to distribute the Quick Facts for Producers cards to every one of their 2,200 county offices. GIPSA will also be reaching out to farming groups over the upcoming winter convention season from October to March.
Weaving a comprehensive safety net to help farmers during challenging times is a conviction that infuses every agency at USDA. GIPSA is moving forward with new investments, advanced technology, training, and compliance to fulfill its mission and lend a helping hand.