Last week Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey highlighted the work of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's (IDALS) Weights and Measures Bureau. He made that announcement in preparation for this week--National Weights and Measures Week--which runs from March 1 to 7, 2012. The ag department's Weights and Measures Bureau is responsible for inspecting each of Iowa's 38,925 fuel pumps at gas stations throughout the state and the 19,272 commercial scales in Iowa.
"At times people often take for granted that the gas pumps or scales we use so frequently are fair and accurate, and it is the responsibility of our Weights and Measures Bureau to make sure that is the case," Northey says. "Even a small inaccuracy over time can have a profound impact and it is important that our inspectors are out there in the state looking out for consumers, suppliers, manufacturers, and store owners to make sure they are all being treated fairly."
The state ag department's Weights and Measures Bureau, which was created in 1923, touches virtually every man, woman and child in Iowa. Inspectors conduct mandated inspections of gas pumps, counter scales, large scales (truck, railroad, livestock, hopper and platform scales) and mass flow meters. The ag department also has responsibility for the inspection and certification of grain moisture meters.
Weights and Measures Bureau helps Iowans know they are getting what they pay for
The weights and measures staff also investigates complaints to ensure consumer protection and protect fair competition. This entails ensuring fuel quantity (i.e. pump accuracy) and fuel quality (i.e. octane and ethanol blends) are indeed being delivered to the consumer as expected. The complaints are fielded and investigated by the bureau and resulting samples are submitted for analysis.
The effect of even small inaccuracies by fuel pumps or scales has the potential to be tremendous. In 2011 over 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline were sold in Iowa through fuel pumps licensed by the state department of agriculture with a value of approximately $6.9 billion. As a result the cost of even a 1% error is $69 million.
"The work of our Weights and Measures Bureau remains vitally important as these inspectors seek to protect customers and make sure Iowans get all that they pay for," Northey says. "National Weights and Measures week is a great opportunity to highlight this important work by these dedicated people."