U.S. Grain Exports:

Concerns About Quality

RCED-86-134: Published: May 19, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 2, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated U.S. grain export practices, focusing on: (1) the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) system for receiving foreign complaints about the quality of exported grain; (2) the Federal Grain Inspection Service's (FGIS) surveys about the practice of removing grain dust from stored grain for safety reasons, then adding it back to the grain before export; (3) the amount of dockage, or easily removed waste material, in U.S. grain shipments; and (4) FGIS disposition of previous GAO recommendations relating to grain quality.

GAO found that: (1) USDA received more foreign complaints about U.S. grain shipments in 1985 than in previous years; (2) the USDA complaint system may not accurately portray the export system because foreign grain purchasers do not always use the system and FGIS can do little to resolve their disputes with U.S. exporters; (3) FGIS has found that the number of grain elevators that add dust to grain shipments has increased; (4) the amount of dust added is relatively small compared to the overall amount of grain shipped; (5) many grain elevator operators benefit from a law that allows them to round the amount of reported dockage in a shipment to the next lowest half-percent; and (6) FGIS had not implemented a number of previous GAO recommendations designed to improve the quality of exported grain, including changing the dockage reporting requirement.

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