Texas Agriculture Commissioner weighs in on scales

farmers'+marketAs you were filling up the family car to head out of town on your summer road trip, you may have noticed that the gas pump at your local convenience store had a seal of approval from the Texas Agriculture Commission. This seal indicates that the pump has been registered and is continually regulated by the state, ensuring that you receive the proper amount of gas that you purchase.

What you might not know is that the Agriculture Commission regulates a host of items inside the convenience store, as well. Everything from bags of pecans to coffee beans are required by state law to be weighed by a certified scale. Alas, sometimes, the scales are tipped against the consumer, and they become victims of improperly weighted scales across a variety of industries, and are shorted on products for which they paid.

To combat this potential fraud, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller quietly launched “Operation Maverick” a little over a year ago to rein in businesses that still need to register their instruments used to weigh goods for sale.

As first reported by the Texas Tribune, nearly 18,000 retailers in Texas, including grocery store chains, coffee houses, laundries and BBQ pits use scales to measure what they sell to the public.

The name of the agency’s effort comes from the term used to describe a cow that has left the herd.

“We are rounding up strays,” explained Agriculture Commission spokesman Mark Loeffler. He explained to the Tribune that the agency believes that a significant amount of new businesses don’t know they have to register a scale with the state. Twenty years ago, most retailers bought scales from a small handful of providers that the agency tracked. But now that more people can buy measuring devices online, it has forced the agency to rethink its retailer education effort.

Since the launch of Operation Maverick in June of 2015, nearly 1,000 retailers and vendors have been given notification that they need to have their scales registered with the agency. Registration fees can range anywhere from $12 to $400 depending on the industry. And during Operation Maverick, retailers are not being fined for not having scales registered, instead they are simply being informed that they need to register, and are given a sticker of compliance for the implement when registration is complete.