The Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service (GA FSIS) has provided an efficient, accurate, third-party inspection service to the ag industry since it began in 1927.
The inspection service ensures the shipment of high-quality products and enhances Georgia’s reputation as a supplier of superior agricultural products including peanuts, fruits, vegetables and pecans. Honesty and impartiality are the foundation of the inspection service and each inspector must demonstrate a high level of integrity while performing inspections.
“GA FSIS performs voluntary and compulsory inspections of products grown and/or marketed in Georgia, as well as traded in the interstate commerce arena,” says Mallory Black, industry relations staff for GA FSIS. “We also inspect products that are imported into the U.S. such as onions, peanuts and other fresh produce. These inspections determine grade, size, quality, and net weight.” The services are performed under cooperative agreements between the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service. The USDA establishes basic grading policies and procedures and provides overall technical direction.
The Farm Bill requires all incoming farmers’ stock peanuts to be inspected using USDA grade standards and inspection procedures. A large portion of GA FSIS’ business is inspecting farmers’ stock peanuts during the fall months. GA FSIS hires, trains and administers USDA-licensed inspectors to inspect the incoming farmers’ stock peanut crop each year at peanut-buying points.
In addition to about 90 full- time employees, the service adds about 1,000 temporary inspectors and aides to staff the grade rooms of more than 130 peanut-buying points statewide.
Inspectors follow USDA guidelines and regulations to determine the segregation of peanuts. The farmers’ payment from the buyer is based on the percentage of quality factors determined in the inspection.
After commercial shellers purchase the farmers’ stock crop, the peanuts are shelled, sized and inspected at the shelling plant by licensed inspectors following USDA standards. All milled peanut lots are required to be inspected and positive-lot identified prior to entering the edible market, tying the inspection certificate to the lot.
Innovation is also on the radar for GA FSIS. The current peanut- grading equipment has been in use for the previous 70 years and is very labor intensive and time consuming.
The inspection service is currently in the process of working with field experts to develop new equipment and technology that will allow peanut inspection to be more efficient. A new peanut load tracking system, eNuts, is also in the works. This software allows producers, buying points and shelling plants to track their load of peanuts from the time of receipt until warehoused.