“In a CIPRS-certified system, grain handling companies coordinate activities and contract with farmers to provide IP grain,” said Stoughton-Ens. “The grain company is audited on their procedures, documentation, and record keeping for IP product within their own facility and their contracted farmers. CIPRS certifies that IP grain has been handled in accordance to a CGC-certified IP-QMS system; it does not certify grain for varietal purity.”
On the Farm
The IP process starts on the farm before the grain is seeded. Grain companies contract with farmers before the crop is sown and crop production requirements are established. Grain companies, in turn, must ensure that the farmers they deal with engage in responsible farm management practices that respect IP requirements.
“The farmer must keep crop history records to minimize the risk of varietal cross contamination from volunteer crops,” noted Stoughton-Ens. “Isolation distances must also be kept between the IP crop and similar types of crops to prevent cross contamination due to pollen drift.”
Isolation distances vary depending on the crop and customer specifications. Farmers must also ensure that seeding equipment is cleaned prior to planting IP grain. After seeding, farmers must monitor their fields for volunteer crops, weeds, and other potential contaminants—and perform good agronomic practices to minimize cross contamination.
Before IP grain is harvested, farmers must clean all harvest equipment, including combines and grain truck boxes. Bins used to store IP grain on the farm must also be cleaned and inspected to prevent cross contamination. Farmers must keep records showing when the grain was harvested, when the harvest and storage equipment was cleaned, and where the IP grain was binned.
The farmer will assign a unique lot identification number to each lot of IP grain, and this number will be associated with all on-farm IP records. Even the vehicle used to transport the grain from the farm to the grain handling facility must be inspected and cleaned, whether it is the farmer’s own vehicle or a commercial transport vehicle.
At the Elevator
IP grain deliveries to elevators are verified upon delivery by the grain company using the farmer’s documentation and records. Depending on contract requirements, the grain delivery may also be tested for varietal purity. A sample of the IP grain lot is taken at delivery and given a lot identifier number that is linked to the elevator’s processing records as well as the farmer’s on-farm records. This unique lot number will appear on all grain handling and processing records associated with that particular lot of IP grain.
In order to prevent cross contamination, all elevator grain handling equipment, such as receiving pits, conveyors, and storage bins, must be inspected and cleaned prior to handling the IP grain. Conveyance containers used for transporting IP grain to the customer must also be cleaned and inspected. The unique lot identification number accompanies shipping documents and allows for the traceability of IP grain from the shipping container back to the farm where it was grown.
All of the procedures and paperwork involved serve a purpose, said Stoughton-Ens: “The whole system of inspection, cleaning, documentation, and record keeping provides evidence to the customer of the due diligence taken by the company to ensure that the grain maintains the desired quality traits.”
Bernard Tobin is a writer and consultant for the Synthesis Agri-Food Network.