FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, SEPT. 12, 2008
Ben Honeycutt, grain program administrator
NCDA&CS Grain Grading Section
New grain grading facility in Elizabeth City helping
N.C. growers enter international markets
Facility also offers alfatoxin testing
RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently opened a grain grading office in Elizabeth City, and it has quickly emerged as one of the busiest of its type in the state. That volume means more international business opportunities for North Carolina farmers.
“This new office is providing grading services for grain in cargo containers bound for overseas markets,” said Ben Honeycutt, NCDA&CS grain program administrator. “In the month of August alone, we inspected nearly 500 containers, which represent a significant amount of commodities since each container holds between 900 and 1,000 bushels.”
The use of cargo containers to transport grains overseas has been a boon for corn, soybean and wheat growers in the state, who can earn better rates for their commodities in international markets.
Previously, cargo containers imported to the United States were unloaded and returned empty to the country of origin. Gradually, grain marketers and farmers put together a network of buyers and transportation resources that would allow these containers to go back loaded with grain.
“It’s a win-win all around,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Local growers can move their commodities into new markets at a decent price. North Carolina is a rising star on the export market.”
Soybeans, corn and wheat are graded according to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, assuring uniformity in products. Test weight, moisture content, damaged kernels, defects and foreign materials are among the characteristics being looked at in grading a commodity. Soybeans range in grades from one to four. Wheat and corn range in grades from one to five. The grades also help determine the prices paid.
While the 2,000-square-foot Elizabeth City office is getting most of its business from international-bound cargo containers, any grower who wants his corn, wheat or soybeans graded can bring in samples for testing. The NCDA&CS Grain Grading Program is receipt-supported, with farmers paying for the grading services they receive.
The office at 407-G South Griffin St., which opened in July, also conducts chemical testing for aflatoxins, proteins and other conditions.
The grain grading program also operates offices in Raleigh and Fayetteville.