Several Western Growers members recently asked me for a checklist of questions to ask when product arrives at contract destination when there has been a federal inspection secured. In other words, can we provide a guidance document to the sales staff to ask the correct questions and determine, with accuracy, liability under the terms of the sales contract.
The following is a checklist of questions that I require the answers to before an opinion can be rendered for a WG shipper as to whether or not a commodity complies with contract at destination:
- Who did you sell product to and do they have a current PACA and/or DRC license?
- Who ordered the inspection?
- Where was the inspection performed (on/off trailer, applicant warehouse, city, state)?
- What was the ship date?
- What was the arrival date?
- What was the date of the inspection?
- How many cartons shipped?
- How many cartons inspected?
- When were you first notified of an issue with product condition?
- When (date/time) was the inspection requested and completed?
- What were the pulp temperatures at loading and at destination?
- What was the label on the product inspected? Look for any other coding, ID numbers, or other markings listed on the inspection to help you match the load shipped.
- Review the scoreable defects (separate quality and condition defects)
- Did it make good arrival? (Good Arrival Guidelines)
- Review temperature recording tape and/or the download of TRU (trailer refrigeration unit)
This checklist connects the crucial observations that need to be made to determine the facts, and most can be obtained from the inspection certificate, the bill of lading, and your invoice. By request on an FOB sale, your customer should provide you with the transit temperature tapes and TRU downloads. By investigating and obtaining answers to these questions, it will help you in making an informed business decision regarding the shipment and shows a good-faith effort in determining liability. (Notice of Complaint Form)
Becoming familiar with reviewing USDA or CFIA inspection certificates will be instrumental in determining compliance of your product under the terms of the negotiated sales contract. Remember to focus on the reported condition defects, separating Quality from Condition defects, and to thoroughly check all other aspects of the information provided on the federal inspection. It will give you keen insight to help determine how a dispute can be resolved.
Western Growers regular members can utilize my services to review and help interpret federal inspections by reaching out to me at 949-885-2392 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.