Exceptions to Geographic Boundaries
Under the United States Grain Standards Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designates official agencies (OAs) to provide official services in an assigned geographic area. Under certain conditions, a customer (applicant) may request a different OA provide service(s) to their facility. Such a request is referred to as an exception. There are three types of exceptions that require approval from the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS): Timely Service, Nonuse of Service, and Written Agreement. The FGIS may grant exceptions in instances when:
- the assigned official agency is unable to provide official inspection services in a timely manner (Timely Service)
- a person requesting inspection services in that geographic area has not been receiving official inspection services from the assigned official agency for that geographic area (Nonuse of Service)
- the assigned official agency for a geographic area agrees in writing with an adjacent official agency to waive the current geographic area restriction at the request of the applicant (Written Agreement).
Who can submit an exception request?
The request for an exception must be submitted by the applicant for official service.
When may exception requests be submitted?
If an applicant desires an exception, they must submit a request to FGIS. Additional information on when each exception request type should be submitted is below.
- Timely Service: If an official agency cannot provide an applicant official services within 6 hours, cannot provide the results and certificate in accordance with §800.160(c), cannot provide services due to weather or other short term disruption, or does not offer the official services the applicant is requesting, a timely service exception may be requested. There are three types of timely service exceptions.
- One Time: For the first instance of untimely service by the assigned OA.
- 90-Day: A request for a 90-day exception may be submitted if: (1) the applicant has an approved one-time exception; and (2) a second occurrence of untimely service by the assigned OA has occurred within 180 calendar days of the first instance.
- Long-Term: A request for a long-term exception may be submitted if: (1) the applicant’s approved 90-day exception request has ended; (2) the applicant has returned to the assigned OA: and (3) there is another occurrence of untimely service by the assigned OA within 365 calendar days of the applicant returning to their assigned OA. If approved by FGIS, a long-term exception may remain in effect until the end of the gaining OA’s designation period.
- Nonuse of Service: If an applicant has not received services from the assigned OA within a 90-day period, they may submit a nonuse of service request to receive services from another official agency. Please keep in mind that periods of nonuse resulting from timely service exceptions will not qualify as part of a period of nonuse.
What information should the applicant provide?
The specific information required will depend on the type of exception requested (timely service, nonuse of service, or written agreement). At a minimum all requests require the applicant’s name, contact information, location where services are being requested, current OA, and requested OA. Applicants must provide justification as to why the exception is needed and are encouraged to provide additional information and documentation, where applicable.
What happens after request is submitted?
FGIS will provide notice of receipt and review the exception request. The assigned OA will have up to 14 calendar days to challenge a timely service or nonuse of service request. Once FGIS makes a determination on the request, it will notify the applicant, the assigned OA, and potential gaining OA. While awaiting a final decision on 90-day and long-term timely service exceptions, the applicant may receive service from the potential gaining official agency.
- Applicants must submit a completed QACD-101 Request for Exceptions and any accompanying documentation to FGISQACD@usda.gov
- Official Agencies wishing to challenge a timely service or nonuse of service request must submit the QACD-102 Exceptions Application Challenge and any accompanying documentation to FGISQACD@usda.gov within 14 calendar days of being notified by FGIS of an applicant exception request.
- To submit a written agreement exception request please email FGISQACD@usda.gov for guidance.
- FGIS 9290.18 - Exceptions and Service Agreements (pdf)
- Request for Exception (pdf)
- Exceptions Request Challenge (pdf)
- Exceptions Webinar Recording
- Email FGISQACD@usda.gov