The grain industry has failed in its attempt to get Congress to privatize grain inspection. Thanks to AFGE activists who worked tirelessly to remind lawmakers of the danger of handing over control of grain inspection to for-profit companies, Congress passed and the President signed into law an agriculture funding bill, the 2016 Agriculture Reauthorizations Act, without mandating privatization sought by the grain industry.
Grain inspection was federalized in 1976 following scandals over corruption and bribes by private inspectors.
The work is currently performed by federal civilian employees with the USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).
AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. in April testified before Congress against grain inspection privatization, arguing that privatization would undermine America’s guarantee of impartial and honest, government-backed trading which is relied upon by world buyers.
During President George W. Bush’s administration, USDA aggressively explored the privatization of grain inspection through a pilot project. However, the department ultimately abandoned that effort after concluding that the use of contractors did not provide an additional savings or efficiencies. In fact, there were significant risks because contractors were unable to hire and maintain an adequately skilled workforce, leaving USDA vulnerable to not fulfilling its legal mandate to inspect and weigh grain.
AFGE thanks House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Ranking Member Tim Walz, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Sherrod Brown for leading the fight against grain inspection privatization.