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Quality Assurance

The Montana State Grain Laboratory, located in Great Falls, is the only federally licensed crop quality testing facility in the state of Montana. It operates within guidelines established by the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and the U.S. Grain Standards Act. Producers have the right to request official analysis at the State Grain Lab to assure unbiased testing for grain and seed quality and grade.

Online Certificates

Grade certificates are available online to allow quick delivery of results.

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  • Lab
    Objectives
  • Commodities
     
  • Grading
    Standards
  • Sampling
    Procedures
  • Fee
    Schedule

State Grain Lab Objectives and Procedures

The Montana State Grain Laboratory, located in Great Falls, operates within the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Grain Standards and the Montana Grain Standards Acts. The Montana State Grain Laboratory operations is monitored by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).

To obtain official designation the laboratory follows criteria established by the FGIS, including:

  • All employees must be examined and licensed by the FGIS for all functions they perform.
  • Stringent record keeping methods must be utilized by all laboratory personnel.
  • Four types of official grain certificates are made available to the grain industry.
  • Adequate equipment and a sufficient number of personnel must be deployed in order to maintain an official designation.
  • All records, equipment, and procedures must be available at all times for scrutiny by a Federal Compliance Team, which examines the Laboratory periodically.

Customers who use the official laboratory are assured the best analytical results determined by consistent methodology certified by the FGIS.

Objective

The Montana State Grain Laboratory is one of three bureaus located within the Agricultural Development Division of the Montana Department of Agriculture. The sole function of the Montana State Grain Laboratory is to operate the grain testing laboratory to satisfy provisions of Montana law, which entitles all buyers and sellers of grain to an official grade, protein analysis and other quality tests on any grain delivered to a warehouse.

Laboratory personnel determine grain quality in an unbiased manner. Official grades are issued after applying correct procedures to the grain being tested. All tests are performed without pressure from either buyer or seller, and without knowing how the results might affect the final settlement of a particular grain transaction.

The Montana State Grain Laboratory operates on income that is generated from established fees for services rendered.

Accurate

Protein, grade and other quality tests are the basis of the price settlement between buyer and seller. The numerical grade of the grain is based on discounts of various factors such as shrunken and broken kernels, frost damage, germ damage, sprout damage and other degrading factors.

All equipment is tested for precision operation and accuracy on a regular schedule, regardless of the amount of use. Infrared equipment is calibrated daily.

Accuracy has been the mark of excellence of the Montana State Grain laboratory. The laboratory has received numerous awards over the past several years for its quality of work in cereal grains.

Accuracy is assured by the laboratory's objective position and the methodology of its official designation.

Commodities Inspected by the State Grain Lab

Cereals Pulse Oil Seed Specialty Crops
Wheat (all classes) Green, Yellow and Mottled Peas Camelina* Mustard (all classes)*
Barley Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas) Crambe* Millet
Khorasan* Lentils Flax Seed Black Hulless Barley
Hulless Waxy Barley Navy Beans Rapeseed Spelt
Oats Pinto Beans Canola Confectionary Sunflower
Rye   Safflower*  
Triticale   Sunflower  
Corn   Soybeans  
* Inspected and graded using State of Montana Standards

Montana State Grain Lab Grading Standards

Federal Standards

The standards for commodities graded under U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) are found on the FGIS website.

These commodities include:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Canola
  • Flaxseed
  • Soybeans
  • Sunflowers
  • Mixed Grain

The standards for commodities graded under Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA) are found on the FGIS website.

Pea and Lentil Handbook (PDF format)
U.S. Standards for Peas and Lentils

Bean Handbook (PDF format)
U.S. Standards for Beans

Montana Standards

Several commodities are graded using Montana Standards. These grading standards are available as individual files listed below.

Accurate Bin and Truck Sampling

Very few fields of grain in Montana are totally level or uniform in quality. Lower areas have more subsoil moisture, higher bushel per acre yields and lower protein. Higher areas have less moisture, fewer bushels per acre and higher protein. Frost settles in low areas in a field resulting in non-uniform percentages of frost damage. Moisture creates higher percentages of sprout damage on the portion of a field that is the most mature. These conditions result in very few bins being totally uniform in quality.

It is extremely difficult to accurately sample a bin after it has been filled. Sampling a full bin with a sectioned or standard tier probe leaves large areas of the bin unsampled. This results in grade, dockage and/or protein results that often do not match results on delivered grain.

It is in the producer's and the elevator's best interest to negotiate grain sales based on accurate bin sample results. Producers and elevators both dislike the problems resulting from a difference in bin sample and unload results.

The most accurate way to sample a truck is with a compartmentized tier probe. Realizing this is impractical during harvest or in most elevator settings, following are some practical suggestions for accurately sampling a bin or truck.

  1. Pre-harvest planning, a five-gallon plastic bucket numbered for each bin or composite sample and a sampling device.
  2. Use a standard sampling device; a coffee can or metal coffee cup, etc.
  3. Sample each truck load according to size so the sample will represent the bin or lot of grain.
  4. A cut of the stream for every 100 bushels. Example: A 300-bushel truck three cuts, a 500-bushel truck five cuts or a 1,000 bushel truck 10 cuts. This will weight the sample by volume to represent the bin or lot of grain.
  5. The sampling device should be quickly drawn across the stream of grain from one side to the other without completely filling the device.
  6. As protein and quality can vary considerably in a bin or lot of grain, the sample should be thoroughly mixed.
  7. Hand mixing of a bin or composite sample does not achieve consistent accurate results. The most efficient way of mixing a sample is to utilize a divider/mixer. As most producers or elevators do not have access to a divider/mixer, the following methods work well.
    • Place the bin sample on a tarp and thoroughly mix with a garden hoe.
    • Pour the elevator composite sample from one container to another, approximately 10 times.

Suggestions for Sampling Bins

To sample bins that are full use one of the following two methods:

Section Probe
Probe grain at the inspection cover and if possible at the center of the bin adding sections until the probe has been pushed into the grain as far as possible or the bottom of the bin is reached. If it is only possible to sample at the inspection cover probe in different directions to acquire grain from different locations in the bin.

Tier Probe
Probe grain at the inspection cover and if possible at the center of the bin. Also take one probe through the augur hole to draw a portion of the sample from the bottom of the bin. If it is only possible to sample at the inspection cover probe in different directions to acquire grain from different locations in the bin.

Hand mixing of a bin sample does not achieve consistent accurate results. The most efficient way to mix a sample is to use a divider/mixer. As most producers do not have access to a divider/mixer the following methods work well.

  • Place the bin sample on a tarp and thoroughly mix with a garden hoe.
  • Pour the bin sample from one container to another at least ten times.

If producers do not have access to a sectioned or a tier probe they can usually borrow one from their local elevator. The State Grain Laboratory is available to assist any producer with advise or information on bin sampling. If producers are located close enough to the State Lab, we would be willing to loan you a probe to use for sampling your bins.

You can order sample bags from the lab.

Download the
Sample Bag
Order Form (PDF format)

Download the
Sample Bag
Order Form (.docx format)

4.13.1001A GRAIN FEE SCHEDULE
United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA)

GENERAL PROVISIONS Applying to all section of this rule are as follows:

Effective Date: The effective date of this rule is July 1, 2014.

General Provisions: General provisions applying to all sections of this rule are as follows:

Service Hours: Normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other hours and holidays will be considered overtime.

Sampling Hours: Sampling hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sampling hours will need to be scheduled the day before if required outside the normal office hours. All other hours and holidays will be considered overtime.

Regular Hourly Rate: The regular hourly rate for travel time and stand-by fee is $24 per hour per individual assessed in half-hour intervals.

Overtime and Holiday Hourly Rate: Overtime and holiday hourly rate is $36.00 per hour per individual assessed in half-hour intervals. A minimum two hour charge will be assessed except when before or for a continuation of a regular work day, then actual overtime hours will be charged.

Holidays: Holidays are as adopted in 1-1-216, MCA. (e.g., New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and State Election Day).

Mileage and Travel Fees: Mileage, travel time, and travel expenses are as follows:

  • Mileage Fee: Mileage charges shall be assessed per Title 2, chapter 18, part 5, MCA for state employees which is equal to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage allotment. Any change to the mileage rate is effective when the IRS changes their standard mileage rate. The mileage charges will be prorated where possible. Mileage will not be charged within five miles of an official state grain laboratory location.
  • Hourly and Overtime Rate: For each out-of-town trip requested, the applicant will be charged at the regular hourly rate, except when work is conducted while in overtime status or on holidays. Work conducted while in overtime status or on holidays will be charged at the overtime rate, prorated where possible.
  • Travel Expenses: Travel expenses, i.e., per diem, lodging, and mileage will be assessed the applicant in addition to other fees and charges.

Miscellaneous Fees:

  • Copies of certificates, per certified copy $2.50
  • Fax charge, per transmission $3.00
  • In case of a data entry or typographical error, a corrected certificate will be issued without a fee.

Postage: Actual postage or delivery service charges will be added to sampling and other fees.

Special Requests: Requests for services not covered by this rule will be performed at the applicable hourly rate stated herein plus mileage and travel time if applicable.

Priority Service: The priority service fee shall be $2.50 per submitted sample in addition to the fees set forth in this rule. Submitted priority samples shall be done within 48 hours or less, on a first arrival basis. Priority service includes electronic report. Priority service will be automatically suspended if backlog of regular samples exceeds two weeks. If priority service is suspended, all submitted sample fees will be assessed at the appropriate rate.

Export Documentation Request: Processing and handling fee for sample preparation and export documentation $7.50 per request.

--- End of General Section ---


Fees for Official Service: Fees for official services provided under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) – includes federal grain inspection services (FGIS) supervision fees.

General Provisions: General provisions applying to all sections of this rule are as follows:

Official Lot Inspection: Official lot inspection sampling with grade, on bulk, boxcar, hopper car or truck/trailer, per request, sampling and grade only:

  • Level One: Level one official sampling service when the state grain laboratory furnishes the sampling crew $21.00 per unit.
  • Level Two: Level two official sampling service when the state grain laboratory furnishes a licensed sampler to write identification tickets, supervise elevator employees while sampling and seal samples for delivery to the state grain laboratory $16.00 per unit.

Official Lot Reinspection: Official lot reinspection based on new sample shall have all regular fees assessed.

Sampling Only: Sampling only (does not include grade) on bulk, boxcar, hopper car or truck/trailer, per request, (all grains) $9.00 per unit.

Stowage Examination: Stowage examination per unit $7.00 per unit.
In excess of one hour hourly rate applies.

Submitted Sample Inspection: Submitted sample inspection includes DKT (damaged kernels total) identified, FM (foreign material) identified, SHBN (shrunken and broken kernels), and DEF (total defects).
Submitted Sample $8.00 per sample.

Reinspections: Reinspections based on file sample (original numerical grade sustained) regular fee assessed $8.00 per sample.

Reinspections: Reinspections based on file sample (original numerical grade changed)
no fee will be assessed.

Laboratory Analysis Fee:

  • Protein Test: near infrared transmittance (NIRT) on wheat, barley, and corn $5.50 per sample
  • Protein Reinspections: (original protein test sustained) $5.50 per sample
  • Protein Reinspection: (original protein test changed) differences of more than 0.3%
    no fee will be assessed.
  • Factor Only Analysis: Factor only determination: e.g., dark, hard vitreous (DHV), kernels; hard, vitreous kernels of amber color (HVAC) $2.50 per factor.
  • Additional: Additional statements, factors or results as requested by the applicant $2.50 each.
  • Malting Barley Analysis: Malting barley analysis, includes actual percent of plump barley, skinned and broken kernels, and thin barley, per request $5.00 per sample.
  • Vomitoxin: vomitoxin (DON) per quantitative analysis test $30.00 per sample.
  • Aflatoxin: aflatoxin per quantitative analysis test $30.00 per sample.

Official Commercial Services performed under the USGSA:
Official commercial inspection services and fees may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

--- End of USGSA ---


PULSE and PROCESSED COMMODITY FEE SCHEDULE

Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA)

Effective Date: The effective date of this rule is July 1, 2014.

General Provisions: General provisions applying to all sections of this rule are as follows:

Service Hours: Normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other hours and holidays will be considered overtime.

Sampling Hours: Sampling hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sampling hours will need to be scheduled the day before if required outside the normal office hours. All other hours and holidays will be considered overtime.

Regular Hourly Rate: The regular hourly rate for travel time and stand-by fee is $24 per hour per individual assessed in half-hour intervals.

Overtime and Holiday Hourly Rate: Overtime and holiday hourly rate is $36.00 per hour per individual assessed in half-hour intervals. A minimum two hour charge will be assessed except when before or for a continuation of a regular work day, then actual overtime hours will be charged.

Holidays: Holidays are as adopted in 1-1-216, MCA. (e.g., New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and State Election Day).

Mileage and Travel Fees: Mileage, travel time, and travel expenses are as follows:

  • Mileage Fee: Mileage charges shall be assessed per Title 2, chapter 18, part 5, MCA for state employees which is equal to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage allotment. Any change to the mileage rate is effective when the IRS changes their standard mileage rate. The mileage charges will be prorated where possible. Mileage will not be charged within five miles of an official state grain laboratory location.
  • Hourly and Overtime Rate: For each out-of-town trip requested, the applicant will be charged at the regular hourly rate, except when work is conducted while in overtime status or on holidays. Work conducted while in overtime status or on holidays will be charged at the overtime rate, prorated where possible.
  • Travel Expenses: Travel expenses, i.e., per diem, lodging, and mileage will be assessed the applicant in addition to other fees and charges.

Miscellaneous Fees:

  • Copies of certificates, per certified copy $2.50
  • Fax charge, per transmission $3.00
  • In case of a data entry or typographical error, a corrected certificate will be issued without a fee.

Postage: Actual postage or delivery service charges will be added to sampling and other fees.

Special Requests: Requests for services not covered by this rule will be performed at the applicable hourly rate stated herein plus mileage and travel time if applicable.

Priority Service: The priority service fee shall be $2.50 per submitted sample in addition to the fees set forth in this rule. Submitted priority samples shall be done within 48 hours or less, on a first arrival basis. Priority service includes electronic report. Priority service will be automatically suspended if backlog of regular samples exceeds two weeks. If priority service is suspended, all submitted sample fees will be assessed at the appropriate rate.

Export Documentation Request: Processing and handling fee for sample preparation and export documentation $7.50 per request.

--- End of General Section ---


Fees for official services provided under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (AMA) as amended.

General Provisions: General provisions applying to all sections of this rule are as follows:

Sampling Fees: Sampling fees for grade or phytosanitary certification:

Bulk Samples: bulk samples from boxcars, hopper cars, truck/trailers $9.00 per unit.

Bagged Lots: bagged lots or totes Hourly Rate.

Inspection Fee:

  • Grade Only: grade only per lot or submitted sample: field run $13.00 per sample.
  • Grade Only: grade only per lot or submitted sample: other than field run $11.00 per sample.
  • Factor only: factor only determination, $2.50 per factor.
  • Additional: additional statements, factors or results as requested by the applicant, $2.50 per factor

Laboratory Analysis Fee:

  • Falling Numbers: falling numbers determination for wheat, $11.00 per sample.

State Grain Lab Forms & Files

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