Issue: Screening/scalping of grain prior to shipment to receiving states with a European Corn Borer (ECB) Quarantine Program.
Background: Several states have an ECB Certification Program similar to the one in Minnesota. The certification program is an old agreement (pre-dating Bt corn) between corn origin states (Minnesota) and receiving states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington) with an ECB quarantine, in which the origin state agreed to verify that all corn moving west would go through a scalper with a ½ inch screen. Upon verification, the origin location was provided with pre-approved certificates to accompany each shipment to these nine states.
In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) noted that some grain elevators that were shipping corn to the receiving states that have a corn borer quarantine were not using the proper screening to take out the large foreign material (e.g., pieces of cobs and stalks) that could harbor ECB.
The more common practice today is a gravity flow screener for removing FM but not the specific screen contained in the certification program. It appears that due to Bt corn and harvesting technology, corn borer is not the problem it used to be. Thus, the ECB certification program is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, the industry is still strapped with having to certify and ensure that the screening was done, with the paperwork accompanying nearly all corn shipments since the aforementioned states still have a quarantine policy in place. Even with some apparent non-compliance with the ECB program, there have been no reports of ECB showing up at the receiving state destinations.
Further, fewer and fewer elevators use a scalper for inbound and/or outbound corn due, primarily, to its slow speed. Cost estimates for a new scalper are around $175,000 plus installation, which could run into the millions, depending on where you would put the scalper in your grain handling system and how many you would need to capture “all” of the corn.
Next Steps: Work with the MDA to resolve current conflict between the shipping and receiving states.
Short Term Options:
- Work with the FGIS to provide some type of certification that the officially sampled/inspected grain is free of ECB/harborage for ECB. The grain elevator would not be required to provide any additional type of screening/cleaning/scalping. If the FGIS does provide this service, then it might be possible for Minnesota to eliminate its certification program.
It appears that this is the option that MDA favors and has reached out to each of the receiving states for their feedback. Many seem to be receptive.
Therefore, MDA has reached out to the FGIS for their input. Before formally responding, FGIS wants feedback from industry.
The downside is the potential for additional costs for facilities that do not currently receive origin official sampling and inspection. It is also possible this process could be adopted by other states where shippers do not need/want an FGIS certification.
- Instead of purchasing a new scalper, use an appropriately sized mesh screen over the dump pits to screen incoming loads. MDA will issue ECB certificates if the mesh is approved by the state inspectors.
The downside to this option is that there would need to be a long-term upkeep/maintenance to the screens. In addition, the facilities would have to determine if they would leave the screens over the pit for other grains, or remove them when switching commodities, both options which could also impact unloading efficiency.
Long Term Option: Eliminate the quarantine program in each receiving state.
This process would involve working with a third-party i.e. university to gather data showing that ECB is no longer a threat and that is totally unnecessary for the grain industry to spend signification amounts of time, money, and effort to participate in a program that has outlived its need and usefulness.