WASHINGTON — A new US Department of Agriculture rule standardizes the formula for calculating grain inspection supervision fees and enables the annual adjustment of those fees in order to maintain an operating reserve required by the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA).

The final rule, published Sept. 3 by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), gives wider leeway on supervision fees to the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), which probes, weighs and tests shipments of grain at origins around the country.  

The amended rule became necessary after the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 modified the USGSA, requiring the FGIS to maintain an operating reserve between three and six months, facilitated by adjusting fees for the supervision of official grain inspection and weighing.

An FGIS operating reserve review at the conclusion of fiscal 2016 found the Supervision of Official Agencies account significantly exceeded six months’ reserves. After calculating that a suspension of fees would “not impair the objectives of the USGSA because the operating reserve for supervision services is sufficient to maintain the service without additional funds,” the agency suspended the assessment fee of $0.011 per tonne of grain in domestic shipments since July 1, 2017.

The final rule published in the Federal Register reads, in part, “AMS will publish annual FGIS fee updates in the Federal Register and post updated fee schedules on its website. The revision also eliminates or revises certain registration and duplication fees charged by FGIS.”

The amended rule and new formula become effective Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2022. A five-year rolling average of the amount of grain officially inspected and weighed in fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020 by delegated states and officially-designated agencies will be used as a base for calculating fiscal 2022 fees.

The National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association both backed inclusion of the five-year rolling average formula already in place for calculating national and local export tonnage fees on an annual basis.