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Wheat Standards

On November 27, 2009 USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced it was inviting interested parties to comment on whether the current wheat standards and grading practices need to be revised.

USDA stated that since the wheat standards were last revised, numerous changes have occurred in the breeding and production practices of wheat; the technology used to harvest, process, and test wheat; and also wheat marketing. USDA stated it was conducting the standards review to ensure that standards and official grading practices remain relevant.

In response, on February 24, 2010 NAMA submitted comments to USDA/GIPSA. NAMA said most, if not all, the factors in the U.S. wheat standards were adopted many years ago. Unfortunately, through the years the standards and test methods for measuring compliance with them have not kept pace with market demands or testing technology.

Standards are simply a short-hand means of providing buyers and sellers with information about the value of the grain. But many of the factors that reflect true intrinsic value are either not included in the official U.S. standards, or are included in only a backhanded way.

Areas identified by NAMA as deserving particular attention were:

  • Flour yield
  • Insect damaged kernels
  • Live insect infestation
  • Protein quality vs. quantity
  • Mycotoxins
  • Alpha amylase enzyme activity
  • The definition of Wheat of Other Classes

In April 2012, GIPSA proposed revising the wheat standards to change the definition of contrasting classes in hard white wheat and the grade limits for shrunken and broken kernels. NAMA submitted comments supporting the proposed change to classify hard red winter and hard red spring present in hard white wheat as “Wheat of Other Classes” and recommending GIPSA consider a larger reduction in the grading limits for shrunken and broken kernels to more accurately state the value of the wheat.

Last updated December 17, 2012

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