Cargill, Inc., one of the country's largest agricultural commodity firms, today displayed a television system designed to monitor the weighing, sampling and loading of grain at one of its commodity export complexes here.
The system, unveiled at a press conference jointly sponsored by Cargill and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was conceived as part of a voluntary affirmative action agreement the Minneapolis based firm made with the USDA in March 1976.
During that period, a number of federal indictments were handed down in connection with irregularities in the weighing and inspection of grain, mostly in the New Orleans area. The following November the Federal Grain Inspection Service was established by USDA to insure that U.S. grain quality and weighing standards were maintained.
The television system allows inspectors to monitor and record the weighing and sampling of grain, in every step of the grain loading operation, from emptying of storage silos to loading the grain in a ship's hull.
In addition, Cargill said the system often is cheaper than the cost of hiring extra inspectors to perform now-required visual certification of grain loading.
Leland E. Bartelt, administrator of the Federal Grain Inspection Service, called the project "an example of government and industry working together to implement regulary requirements."
Cargill - with sales of $10.8 billion in its last fiscal year - came out of the grain scandals with a clean bill of health, but decided to get involved in the monitoring project because of the scandals' adverse impact on the industry.
"The actions of a minority group of grain handlers nevertheless rubbed off on the grain trade," said Clifford Roberts, vice president and head of the commodity marketing division of Cargill. "The confidence of the grain industry was being destroyed, and it was obvious that some leadership had to be taken to restore it."
He said publicity about the system - variations of which eventually will be installed in most of Cargill's other commodity export complexes across the country - was doing a "good job" in restoring confidence in the industry.