Grain Quality

FGIS Grain Inspection Orientation

GEAPS Online Learning courses are available anytime on-demand. Each course takes approximately 10 hours to complete and can be completed at any pace over five weeks. Courses must be completed within a five-week period that begins the day you register. After registering, learners will be sent a confirmation email, then you’re ready to start learning!  


FREE for members
$795 for non-members.  

Course Description: This course introduces professional grain handling and processing operations personnel to the basics of grain inspection. Specially developed by the USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service, it provides participants with a history of grain inspection and an overview of general inspection techniques. The lectures will cover grain marketing and production, the U.S. Grain Standards Act and other legislation, an outline of grain inspection including a video inspection lab tour, grain quality factors and sampling and a look at the official weighing program.

Course Goals: This course aims to enhance grain handling and processing industry professionals’ basic knowledge and skills related to grain inspection. By the end of this course, students will have a solid understanding of grain inspection legislation and laws.

Target Audience: This course was designed for merchandisers, facility managers, exporters and anyone who needs to learn more about the U.S. grain inspection and marketing system. It will be especially helpful to those just beginning their careers in the grain industry, but students of all experience levels will find this knowledge useful in almost any grain-industry endeavor.


John Sharpe  Retired USDA Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)See Bio

Mr. Sharpe spent 30 years in various leadership positions with GIPSA. His leadership positions included director of the compliance division, where he was responsible for the review and designation of official agencies and for GIPSA field officers to ensure consistent and accurate inspection results to the grain industry. Before retiring, John was director of the Technical Services Division, responsible for maintaining the agency’s central reference methods to ensure uniform inspection results nationwide, and for the agency’s research and development activities to meet new and emerging testing needs.

The Course of Study

Week 1Details

Lecture 1 – Grain Production and Marketing
This lecture will provide the following overviews to familiarize students with grain production and marketing: commercial production and uses of standardized grains with major and minor crops; factors that affect grain quality during production, harvest, and storage with the domestic, export and global market including world grain standards; and how grain moves through the market channels from producer to end user.

Lecture 2 – Grain Marketing Legislation
This lecture gives an overview of the legislation enacted to standardize the trading of grain in the U.S. The lecture covers the history of grain marketing and how important it was and is to have standards in place. Students will also learn some of the significant amendments and revisions that were made to the Grain Standards Act throughout its history. This lecture also covers what the Agriculture Act of 1946, and the U.S. Warehouse Act are and how they impact grain marketing.

Week 2Details

Lecture 3 – The U.S. Grain Standards Act (In Plain English)
This lecture reviews the Grain Standards Act and gives a detailed understanding of the provisions written in the USGSA that provide uniform and trustworthy national inspection and weighing system for U.S. agriculture. At the completion of this lecture, students will understand how individual sections of the USGSA impact the grain marketing system. Students will also have a clear understanding of the actions and activities individuals and entities are prohibited from engaging in and the civil and criminal penalties that may result from committing prohibited acts.

Lecture 4 – Industry Trading Rules
This lecture provides an overview of industry trading rules and how they interact with official inspection. Students will become familiar with the main trading rules governing commercial transactions for weighing and grading grain, including a brief history of trading rules and how they were established, how they are used in domestic and export grain transactions, and how disputes are settled. Students will become familiar with the main trading rules governing commercial transactions for grain by-products and understand the relationship between official inspections and industry trading rules. Topics will include both the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) contracts and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) contracts, as well as other trading rules that reference official inspection.

Week 3Details

Lecture 5 – Overview of Grain Inspection
This lecture explains how grain quantity and quality are determined from the house grader to the official system, so that individuals know who to contact with questions on the system. Students will also learn the roles of governmental organizations in grain marketing and the resources available to industry graders.

Lecture 6 – The Regulations Under the U.S. Grain Standards Act; Part 800 and Part 810
This lecture will contain a section-by- section review of Parts 800 and 810 under the USGSA, what they are, and how they were modified. It will provide students with a brief overview of the Standards Act, Part 800 general regulations, purpose, amendments and enforcement. In the second part of the lecture, Part 810: The Official United States Standards for Grain will be covered. Students will understand how Part 810 was created and modified, what grains have established standards and where to find them in regulations and what information is included in a standard.

Week 4Details

Lecture 7 – Grain Quality Factors
This lecture will review factors used to indicate grain quality. It primarily covers the quality factors that affect the market value of grain. These factors include the characteristics of the grain, the condition of the grain, contamination of the grain with toxic substances and the composition of the grain.

Lecture 8 – Sampling
This two-part lecture will help familiarize students with a general knowledge of the sampling process used by FGIS. The lecture covers topics such as, why we sample, obtaining a representative sample, sampling equipment, bulk grain sampling methods, sampling grain and other commodities in smaller containers and additional sampler responsibilities. In the second part of the lecture, students will learn why official sampling procedures are not always practical for those who market and store grain at country points and be given alternative methods for obtaining samples that can be used by unofficial inspection personnel.

Week 5Details

Lecture 9 – Grain Inspection Lab Tour
This lecture is a video tour of a grain inspection lab focusing first on the equipment used in inspection, and then looking at the reference methods and calibration processes behind the technology. It will familiarize students with the equipment and instruments used to measure grain quality factors and help to gain a general understanding of the processes behind these technologies.

Lecture 10 – Inspection Services
This is a two-part lecture that covers the inspection process, starting with the kinds and levels of inspection, then moving to what tests are included in a typical sample-lot inspection. Students will also understand how CuSum is used in inspection for export vessels and unit trains and what other inspection related services are available from GIPSA. In the second part of this lecture, students will learn simple, inexpensive and easy-to-use procedures for inspecting grain that can be implemented at country elevators and other first points of delivery.

Week 6Details

Lecture 11 – Inspection Variability
In this lecture, students will be intraduct to basic concepts of quality control and basic processes used to measure and reduce coms of the components that contribute to variability. Basic concepts of statistical thinking will also be introduced as well as concepts to understand variability and tools for describing it.

Lecture 12 – Weighing Program
This lecture provides an insight into the FGIS weighing program. Students will gain an understanding of official weighing services and the scales used to weigh that grain, the difference between Class X and Class Y weighing and the types of scales that are used in the weighing program and how they are tested for use in the official system.