Great Falls, Mont. – Montana State Grain Lab inspectors have finished grading the backlog of samples from the 2016 harvest and the lab has returned to priority service. A higher number of samples coupled with staffing challenges made 2016 a busy year for the lab.
“This was a tough harvest year for our inspectors in the grain lab, as they were both short-handed and grading a high number of samples,” said Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ron de Yong. “I’m very proud of the way Greg and his crew handled things this year and I think they have things in good shape to handle the load next year.”
As Montana’s burgeoning pulse crop industry continues to grow, it presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for the lab. Unlike wheat, pulses have to be officially graded before leaving the state; in 2016, the lab saw a 70% increase in these types of samples. In addition to a higher number of samples, a slew of retirements and departures left the lab short-handed for harvest, as it takes around 6 months for new inspectors to become licensed. The lab expects to be fully staffed and licensed for the 2017 season.
“I’m really proud of our team for the way they handled the workload this season. We’ve had our folks working overtime since August to get caught up,” said Greg Stordahl, Bureau Chief of the State Grain Lab. “We also want to thank the producers for their patience during these past few months.”
The Montana State Grain Lab is the official agency provider for services under the U.S. Grain Standards Act and the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946. The lab is one of 46 Designated Private and State Agencies overseen by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), which is part of the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries.