Senate OKs extension of grain inspection, price reporting services

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2015 - The Senate passed a compromise bill reauthorizing grain inspection standards and livestock price reporting, sending the measure to the House for final congressional approval.

The bill, which passed with unanimous consent, also includes an extension of the National Forest Foundation Act. 

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The bill (HR 2051), which the Senate Agriculture Committee approved last week on a voice vote, includes a key compromise sought by grain traders that could allow private inspections of grain when government inspectors are unavailable because of a labor disruption. Both the buyers and sellers would have to agree that the private inspections would be sufficient.

“This is not the last you'll hear from the Agriculture Committee this year. We have a number of legislative items to consider, and I believe we can also approve those in a bipartisan manner,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. His committee's pending business includes a reauthorization of child nutrition programs and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Pork producers also wanted lawmakers to use the bill to declare the price reporting system an emergency service. That would ensure that the Agriculture Department would continue issuing the reports during a government shutdown, but Senate Democrats wouldn't agree to the provision. 

The bill, however, would expand the information included in the reports for swine and lamb transactions. 

The bill would add a “negotiated-formula” price category that the National Pork Producers Council said would better reflect the total number of hogs negotiated each day regardless of how the prices are reached.  Another provision would require that prices on pigs sold after 1:30 p.m. be included in the next morning's report.

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