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Weighing
Official Weighing

All exported grain must be officially Class X weighed. Domestic shipments may be Class X or Class Y weighed. Class X weighing is 100 percent supervised by licensed official personnel, who then issue an official "white" certificate. Class Y weighing is performed by elevator personnel who do the weighing and issue "yellow" certificates.

Official Weighing Class "X"

Official Weighing is when official personnel (GIPSA, State, or private employees licensed by GIPSA) determine and certify the quantity of a lot of grain. The official agency in the elevator's area weighs or observes the weighing by physical supervision and monitors the discharge of grain through the scales, out of the elevator, into a carrier.

Supervision of Weighing Class "Y"

Upon request of an applicant, GIPSA can provide Class Y (Official) weighing service under the United States Grain Standards Act (Act). Approved elevator weighing personnel perform the weighing using GIPSA approved scales under GIPSA supervision. Supervision is provided by GIPSA employees or a designated agency in an elevator's area. They (designated agencies) establish the cost for this service and submit their fees to GIPSA for approval.

Requesting Services

After an elevator decides it wants service, a written request to its local GIPSA FGIS Field Office must include:

  • A completed "Application for Approval to Operate as a Weighing Facility" (Form FGIS-1001 (PDF; 90Kb) signed by the elevator showing the names of all weighers;
  • For Class Y weighing, an agreement/commitment between the elevator and Designated agency on the scope of service, i.e., on how they will/will not notify the official agency when Class Y weighing, types of movements covered, etc.;
  • Class X service is requested on a case-by-case basis, in the same way grain inspection services are obtained.
Requirements

To qualify for official weighing, the elevator must comply with the applicable requirements of the regulations and instructions under the Act. This includes:

  • Using and maintaining suitable grain handling equipment and accurate scales as described in The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) publication Handbook 44 , "Specifications, Tolerances, and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices," GIPSA regulations, and instructions;
  • Permitting only trained, competent weighers to operate the scales and grain handling equipment when Class X or Y weighing (as declared on the form FGIS-1001) and;
  • Following all procedures in accordance with the regulations and instructions of the Act. This means following the weighing practices and certifying results as directed in the GIPSA Weighing Handbook, Chapters 1 and 2.

For Class X or Y certification approval, the field office or designated agency will survey the grain flow system to assure that all grain weighed can be delivered to the carrier without loss. Also, a GIPSA scale specialist will test and assure your scale (s) meets official and commercial requirements.

If you would like additional information, please contact Byron School, FGIS, Policies and Procedures Branch, via e-mail at byron.c.school@usda.gov or by telephone at 202.720.0280.

Scale Testing and Test Weight Certification

GIPSA provides official testing for a variety of scales used in official grain weight certification under the USGSA including Automatic Bulk Weighing (Hopper) scales, Vehicle scales, Railroad track scales and small Platform scales used in commodity check weighing. This service is performed by GIPSA Industrial Specialists or by a delegated State Agency that has been authorized by GIPSA to perform the official services. Currently, authorized delegated State Agencies include the Department of Agriculture in the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington and California.

Railroad Track Scale testing service is provided by GIPSA using five special designed Test Weight Carts of calibrated weight up to 110,000 pounds traceable to NIST that are transported on the rail lines in special box car units with self contained power generation and hoist equipment.

GIPSA’s newest unit FGWX700000, one of two railroad cars that replaced two 50 year old test car units

(GIPSA’s newest unit FGWX700000, one of two railroad cars that replaced two 50 year old test car units)

GIPSA is accredited under the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Metrology certification program for calibrating Class F test weight field standards from 25 to 10,000 pounds providing weight traceability to NIST standards. GIPSA calibrates it own test weight standards used in the Test Car Units. GIPSA also provides special service to calibrate test weight standards on site inside Grain Elevator headhouses. This calibration service utilizes portable equipment that is set up at a calibration station in the grain elevator in accordance with GIPSA requirements as set forth in Chaper III of the Weighing Handbook.

If you would like additional information, please contact Byron School, FGIS, Policies, Procedures and Market Analysis Branch via email at Byron.C.School@usda.gov or telephone 1-202-720-0280.

GIPSA Master Scale Calibration Program

GIPSA entered an agreement with the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST) and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) in 1980 which transferred the responsibility to GIPSA for maintaining the Master Scale facility in Chicago and calibrating all the master scales in the continental United States annually. Eight master scales are owned by individual Class I railroads, two are owned by the States of Oregon and Minnesota and one is owned by GIPSA. The master scales are used exclusively to calibrate railroad test weight cars that are used to test railroad track scales.

The Master Scale Depot (MSD) in Chicago is a NIST certified metrology laboratory that is certified to calibrate Class F field test weight standards from 25 to 10,000 pounds, test carts and railroad track test weight cars on the master scale. All GIPSA railroad test weight standards and carts are calibrated at this facility. AAR member railroad test weight cars are calibrated at the MSD as part of the AAR agreement. GIPSA also offers calibration services at MSD to commercial entities for calibrating test weight standards and carts for a published fee.

GIPSA also offers a special ?railroad test weight car field calibration? service which provides calibration of railroad test weight cars, usually composite type cars, on site at locations where the railroad test weight cars cannot be easily moved out of the immediate area due to mechanical constraints.

If you would like additional information, please contact Byron School, FGIS, Policies, Procedures and Market Analysis Branch via email at Byron.C.School@usda.govor telephone 1-202-720-0280.

Review of Weighing (Appeals)

Weight Complaints (Review of Weighing)

A review of weighing service is a formal review of weighing documentation pertaining to a specific weight certificate. The review includes a detailed evaluation of weight logs, scale tapes, scale history, and other documentation and, if necessary, consultation with individuals involved with the actual weighing. A scale testing official does this review if possible.

The review of weighing service, is performed when requested by an interested person on domestic shipments. An "interested person" is defined as any person having a contract or other financial interest in grain as the owner, seller, purchaser, warehouseman, carrier, or otherwise. Persons who are employed by or represent carriers in the capacity of investigating claims against the carrier regarding the weight are considered "interested persons."

Export weight inquiries are forwarded by field offices to FGIS' International Monitoring Staff.

Request for Review of Weighing

Requests must be filed within 90 days after the date of the Class X or Class Y weighing service with the FGIS field office or agency that conducted the original service.

The request is considered filed when the oral or written request is received by the field office or agency.

The review of weighing is conducted by the office that performed the official service.

Application Requirements

  • Name and mailing address of applicant.
  • Name(s) and address(es) of interested persons.
  • Carrier identification, quantity, and the official service location.
  • Copy of original weight certificate.
Looking Towards the Future

Automated Weight Monitoring Systems

Since 1989, FGIS has been encouraging export elevators to install automated systems to monitor grain flow paths, maintain weight records, and activate alarms and shut-down devices, if necessary. Such systems can monitor flow paths more diligently than humans and are less likely to record erroneous weights. In addition, they can prompt personnel to perform scale checks and reduce the need for inspection personnel to visit sites inside the elevator. As entering the elevator always involves some risk, an automated system improves safety. The elevator benefits because a properly functioning automation system allows FGIS to operate with a smaller inspection team, and hence charge smaller fees.

The elevator is responsible for contracting for the design and installation of the official automated system because it must be integrated with the elevator's own control system. FGIS advises the elevator and contractors during the development of the system, and carefully checks out the system for security and functionality before approving its use. FGIS assumes control of the automated system after its approval. Repairs and upgrades are made by the elevator's automation contractor, but must be approved beforehand and checked out afterward by FGIS.

Eight export elevators' systems have been approved. Four more automated weighing systems are in development.

If you would like additional information, please contact Nelson Buck, FGIS, Policies and Procedures Branch, via e-mail at nelson.l.buck@usda.gov or by telephone at 202.720.0228.