Idaho businesses selling goods abroad have to report shipping weights in metric terms after Jan. 1, and farm researchers are urging all companies to become familiar with the requirements.

The metric system must be used in reporting quantities and shipping weights of goods listed on export declarations, say officials at the University of Idaho College of Agriculture. The shift to the metric system is part of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.Congress also required export sellers to discard the statistical reference system presently used on export declarations. In its place, a new "harmonized" numbering system will be used. It is the same numbering code as used by other major nations.

R.L. Henry, Boise, chairman of the Idaho District Export Council, said the overall aim of the new trade legislation is to make it possible for American business to increase sales of products in international markets.