Advances in Grain, Feed and Field Operations Traceability Standards

Grain & Feed Council

Advances in Grain, Feed and Field Operations Traceability Standards

By Jim Wilson, AgGateway Standards Director

We want to share a recent press release and a meeting report regarding the great work of the AgGateway team working on field-to-fork grain traceability standards. As stated in an AgGateway press release this month, grain producers and handlers may soon have more powerful data management capabilities to address traceability and the regulatory needs of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) thanks to this collaborative effort. Companies involved in CART (Commodity Automation for Rail and Truck), met last month at the Software Solutions Integrated (SSI) corporate offices and training center in Shelbyville, Ill., to map out a plan to complete the standards work by AgGateway’s Mid-Year Meeting in June. Taking CART over the finish line will culminate almost two years of work by more than 25 member companies and individuals from academia dedicated to AgGateway’s mission of expanding eConnectivity in agriculture.

“The grain industry has not been able to efficiently track harvested grain – from harvester to grain cart, grain cart to truck, truck to elevator, and elevator to processor,” said Phil Kubesh, IT Manager at Vita Plus Corporation and Chair of AgGateway’s Grain & Feed Council. “These new standards pave the way for growers to much more efficiently transact and manage that valuable data.”

Read the full press release here. 

In addition, here’s my report on that recent meeting in Shelbyville:

CART, which is a work stream within AgGateway's SPADE Project, addresses grain-handling information management from the harvester to grain cart, grain cart to truck, truck to elevator, and elevator to processor (including feed processor). Included in this scope is grain testing. As the SPADE3 Project completion nears, CART contributors recognized the value of a few days face-to-face to bring the finish line in sight. SSI, a long-time AgGateway contributor, offered to host a meeting in their state-of-the-art new corporate office and training center in Shelbyville, Illinois, USA in early February.

Before getting to work at SSI, the group toured The Equity in Effingham, arranged by Natasha Lilly, Information Services Director. Mark Tarter, Vice President Grain, spent the better part of an afternoon walking the CART team through The Equity's grain and feed handling processes. The team left Effingham for Shelbyville in a great frame of mind for addressing standardization needs.

Fifteen people from 13 companies gathered around SSI's boardroom table to get to work. Marilyn Hunter, with AgGateway, did a fantastic job facilitating the meeting, keeping everyone focused on the goal. One thread through all discussions was the industry's need (and AgGateway's commitment) to tie together existing standards where possible, and collaborate with other organizations when necessary. The team recognized AEF, ASABE, AgXML, OAGi, ISO, and UN/CEFACT as having resources and/or activities important to the CART effort. At the meeting's conclusion, the team had a clear set of assigned tasks that would result in the bulk of the CART work being completed by the end of March, leaving plenty of time to polish the content and tie up any loose ends prior to AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting in June.

Joining the CART meeting was special guest Evan Wallace with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is a division of the United States Department of Commerce. NIST has funded Iowa State University’s and Iowa Grain Quality Initiative programs for grain quality and traceability and they have been working very closely with General Mills Inc. on similar concepts. NIST has been instrumental in defining and funding the development of test methods, apparatus, and sensor standards. As a relative outsider to the group, and even the agriculture industry, Evan's out-of-the-box perspective positively influenced discussions.

The CART team greatly appreciated SSI's over-the-top hospitality, with some observing that the facility was a perfect fit for such an industry meeting. SSI's Pam Rincker, Dave Craft, Maria Spiker and Carol Williams deserve special mention. I have a feeling AgGateway members will be back in Shelbyville a few times in the coming years!

To wrap up the week, Land O'Lakes' Scott Nieman arranged a tour of WinField's new cutting-edge Sure-Tech Lab in Indianapolis for Evan and me. Plant Manager Jodi Jaynes spent a few hours describing processes involved in soil, plant-tissue and grain testing while touring the lab and seeing equipment up close.

Overall it was a very productive week, which reinforced the value of well planned and executed face-to-face meetings and the importance of field trips to drive home the practical implications of AgGateway's work.