9 Ag groups oppose fee sweeping

SB 5002, Oregon Department of Agriculture Budget

Oregonians For Food and Shelter: Oregon Department of Agriculture Budget (SB 5002) – On Thursday, the Ways and Means Natural Resources SubCommittee completed their hearings on the Department of Agriculture’s budget with a public hearing. A packed room of farmers, processors and many other interests shared favorable comments regarding the Department and it’s programs. Many agricultural interests worked collaboratively on joint testimony. Katie Fast presented the groups’ position to the Committee and submitted the letter below.

March 3, 2011

Ways & Means, Natural Resources SubCommittee
Co-Chairs, Senator Edwards, Representative Jenson and Representative Cowan

RE: SB 5002, Oregon Department of Agriculture Budget

Agriculture is Oregon’s second largest trade sector, and one in twelve jobs is directly tied to agriculture. Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) services and regulatory programs are essential to our community’s success and benefit all Oregonians. Our farmers, ranchers and processors compete in a worldwide market, and many of ODA’s programs are needed to maintain a competitive advantage while protecting public health and safety.

In collectively analyzing ODA’s 11-13 budget, our organizations have developed a series of principles:

• We adamantly oppose the sweeping of fee-based accounts. Our members pay those fees for services and continue to be troubled over the fund sweeps in 07-09 and 09-11.
• We have concerns over the continuation of shifting programs from general fund support to industry fees. These fund shifts equate to over $2.7 million pushed onto fee payers. This has been a continued trend over the past decade.
• Programs that have been traditionally funded by Measure 66 funds are critical to landowners and need to be maintained as Measure 76 is implemented.

In analyzing and commenting on the 2011-13 budget details, we used the agency’s “Department-Wide Priorities” sheet and the Governor’s Balanced Budget as the base document. The priority numbering used below are the agency’s and do not reflect our organizations’ position.

A. Food Safety (1) – We oppose the fund shift of $650,000 to the general fund. Oregon’s dairy farmers, food processors and grocery stores pay fees to ensure that Oregonians receive a safe, wholesome and properly labeled food supply. Due the importance of this work to all Oregonians, we strongly believe a general fund contribution is critical. The general fund has traditionally contributed 40% of the program’s cost.

B. Animal Health (3) – It is critical that this program stays whole and productive. Many of our organizations support a new registration fee for pet food to maintain their work to prevent, control and eradicate diseases that benefit both animals and humans. If the fee is not approved, we request general funds are used to maintain the program.

C. Agriculture Water Quality (8) – Due to our commitment to improving water quality, we support maintaining a strong ODA program. The budget shifts funding part of the program from lottery funds to Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Funds (PCSRF). Before this shift is approved, we request approval by NOAA Fisheries is official. Additionally, we are concerned that this will not be a stable funding source for the program. We also support the Water Quality Monitoring addition of $897,727.

D. Weed (15) – As the appropriate location and administration of the Weed Program under Measure 76 is worked through, we want to stress the significance of the grant program to local weed control efforts.

E. Pesticide Analytical Response Center (PARC) – Due to the importance that pesticide health concerns are handled in a science-based and unbiased manor, we support the continued use of pesticide registration fees to fund the program.

F. Predator Control (35) – Wildlife Services is an important cost-share program between federal, state, county and private partners. The funds are used to control predatory and nuisance animals that damage crops and timber, kill livestock and harass urban homes. We strongly support the additional $100,000 to the program.

Finally, we would like to recognize the outstanding leadership of Director Katy Coba and the commitment of her staff. All Oregonians benefit from this well run agency.

Katie Fast, Oregon Farm Bureau
Paulette Pyle, Oregonians for Food and Shelter
Roger Beyer, Oregon Dairy Farmers’ Association & Oregon Seed Council
Patrick Capper, Oregon Association of Nurseries
Helen Moore, Water For Life
John McCulley, Oregon Agriculture Cooperative Council
Jim Welsh, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
Dave & Tom Barrows, Threemile Canyon Farms, LLC
Jana Jarvis, Oregon Wheat Growers League

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