The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) on April 15 published a final rule in the Federal Register announcing the revision of local and national tonnage fees for all officially inspected export grain shipments serviced by GIPSA field offices. The new fees take effect on May 1.
The increase in national and local tonnage fees is in addition to all other applicable fees assessed for all export shipments serviced by GIPSA field offices. In fiscal year 2013, GIPSA is increasing the local tonnage fees for: 1) League City, Texas, from $0.115 to $0.125 per metric ton; 2) New Orleans, La., from $0.015 to $0.033 per metric ton; 3) Portland, Ore., from $0.084 to $0.124 per metric ton and; 4) Toledo, Ohio, from $0.132 to $0.233 per metric ton.
This final rule increases the national tonnage fee approximately 5 percent in fiscal year 2013 -- from $0.052 to $0.055 per metric ton of export grain inspected and/or weighed -- and approximately 2 percent per year for fiscal years 2014 to 2017. In addition, workers compensation costs are being shifted from the national to the local level to fully reflect where those program costs originate. GIPSA now will charge the national tonnage fee of $0.055 per metric ton on export grain inspected and/or weighed (excluding land carrier shipments to Canada and Mexico) from delegated states and designated agencies.
On Feb. 13, the NGFA and NAEGA submitted a joint statement generally supporting GIPSA's proposed changes to the fee schedule -- contingent upon the agency’s adoption of several recommendations to modify the overall structure of its current user fee system.
Specifically, NGFA and NAEGA recommended that GIPSA adopt the following procedural changes to determine official inspection and weighing fees in the future:
- Use a rolling five-year average as the basis for the tonnage user-fee calculation, which would lead to greater correlation between both high- and low-volume export shipment fluctuations, as well as better enable U.S. exporters to project future costs.
- Provide a maximum three-month operating reserve fund, with an automatic trigger to reduce fees once the reserve fund reaches its cap. NGFA and NAEGA recommended this include a trigger or "snap-back" mechanism to provide for as-immediate-as-possible fee reduction when the mandatory limit on the reserve fund is reached. This would have allowed a reduction in the fee level without requiring new rulemaking.