Farmers need state-inspected scales to measure up

va-farm-bureauVirginia has maintained standards for equipment that businesses use to weigh and measure goods since 1661. When the state legislature convenes in January, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation will encourage lawmakers to keep the weights and measures program adequately funded.

Inspection programs of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Product and Industry Standards serve to ensure that consumers receive the products they pay for, that businesses are competing fairly, and that state government is providing appropriate oversight to the system. The program funding is currently at $2.5 million.

There are more than 167,000 weighing and measuring devices used commercially in Virginia that are subject to VDACS inspection—29 percent more than in the previous fiscal year, due to business expansions and development.

“These devices include commonly used equipment like gas pumps and supermarket scales and scanners, as well as scales for weighing food animals like cattle. There are a number of farm marketing agreements that rely on state-inspected devices to ensure integrity of the agreements,” explained Martha Moore, VFBF vice president of governmental relations. “Having a stable system is integral to ensuring viable marketing agreements for livestock.”

Virginia’s weights and measures program has been the subject of several studies mandated by the General Assembly and the governor’s office since 2003 to look at privatization, frequency of inspection and fees associated with inspection services. The studies concluded that the integrity of the business climate in Virginia would be compromised if a total system of privatization was implemented.

During the fiscal year that ended June 30, VDACS staff assigned to the weights and measures program inspected 74,082 weighing and measuring devices used in commercial transactions. The frequency of inspection per device was about 36 months.

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