To meet the demands of customers for consistent quality and consistent varieties, many Midwest specialty grain industry partners have adopted systems that provide for “Identity Preservation”.
Identity preservation, or “IP” for short, provides for careful handling of the grain from seed to harvest, processing and transportation to customer delivery. Under strict identity preserved grain handling, at no point are the grains mixed or co-mingled with other grains. The system is designed to preserve the quality and consistent identity of premium value grains.
Under IP systems, growers must meticulously clean their planters before planting each variety of grain, and they must meticulously clean combines, harvesting and handling equipment. IP grains must be stored segregated, in clean bins and handled to prevent any mixing with other grains.
Trucking, transportation and handling by processors must also meet IP standards to keep producers' grains segregated and meeting the standards of the customers.
The intermodal container transportation system is considered an ideal tool for handling identity preserved grains because the same container can be loaded and sealed on the farm, trucked to the processor, and in turn to the railroad loading yard, and sent by train to the ocean port for load on a container ship for delivery overseas - all with the same grain in the same container. IP grains are also often bagged at the processor level, or sent in large “one-ton totes”, for IP handling purposes.
Midwest producers and processors have access to some of the best resources for maintaining identity preservation. Midwest Shippers Association member processors and traders are knowledgeable and well-practiced in IP handling.
Certification agencies - like the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association provide critical services to IP grain producers and processors, including seed certification, and offering IP inspection systems for farmers and processors.
Suppliers of IP grains generally contract with growers for production of specific seed-variety specific soybeans, corn or other crop. While the extra handling and storage puts added demands on the producers, the premium prices they receive make IP grains worthwhile and provide good managers an opportunity for value-added income.
Organic grains tend to have the strictest demands for identity preservation, with no impermissible herbicides, insecticides or chemical fertilizers allowed on the farm. Detailed production records must be kept, along with records related to transportation and delivery.
Non-GMO grains -- which are required for food and feed imports to Japan, and for food grain crops in many European and other countries - also require stringent handling. Testing systems can easily detect the presence of even a slight amount of “genetically modified” grain varieties.
Many food grade soybeans for use in making tofu, soy sauces, natto, miso and other Asian foods are not only required to be non-GMO, there are specific seed varieties used and the grain must meet minimum protein and other characteristics.
“Soft IP” is another level of identity preservation that is becoming more popular in instances where tolerance levels are not as strict, yet the customer does want a consistent higher quality or specific type of grain. For example, this may simply be # 1 clean soybeans that are handled and shipped by means that prevent any co-mingling with other grains, using containers or bulk rail car to a transload facility which reloads the segregated grain into containers for ocean vessel shipping.
Identity preservation is becoming an increasingly important aspect of Midwest grain production. With the development of new, biotech versions of soybeans and corn - such as low linolenic and high oleic soybeans - IP will be an ever more critical component of grain handling for both export and domestic markets.
While identity preservation requires some additional work, it is not complicated or difficult to do, and MSA member companies and partners are experienced in consulting and working directly with growers to help them insure IP grain protection.
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