Last week there were two OFS priority bills up for hearings. In the morning, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on HB 2469. This bill would undermine the seed preemption law by exempting regulations on GMO crops from preemption. This would mean that local governments and citizen initiatives would be able to regulate what crops farmers are able to plant.
Farmers at the Capitol on Thursday speaking against
HB 2469 and HB 2739
There were 17 people speaking in opposition to the bill, including farmers from across the state. There were also many emails sent to legislators asking them to protect our seed preemption law. Speaking in favor of the bill were organic farmers from Southern Oregon, and a couple of activists groups.
The stories from the farmers about why seed preemption is important, and how coexistence between growers can and does work, seemed to resonate with the committee members. There was no indication from the Chair during the hearing that he is interested in moving this bill forward, but we will continue to watch agendas to ensure it isn’t scheduled for a Work Session.
On Thursday afternoon the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HB 2739, which would hold seed patent holders of GE crops financially liable if their seed was found on neighboring land. This bill seeks to demonize GE crops and paint them as somehow being “dangerous.” Several OFS members spoke in opposition to the bill with concerns about future access to the latest seed technology in Oregon.
Thank you to everyone who sent a message to their legislators on these bad bills, and to those who came to Salem to testify yesterday: Barry Bushue, Kevin Richards, Debbie Crocker, Helle Ruddenklau, Tim Winn, Marie Bowers, Greg Loberg, Chad Allen, Dan Anderson, Jon Iverson, Steve Vangrunsven, Thomas Dierickx, Pete Postlewait, Roger Beyer and Blake Rowe.
Next week brings hearings on two more OFS priority bills that target pesticide applications. On Wednesday, March 22 at 3:00, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on SB 892 and SB 500.
SB 892 would require notification to ODF at least 7 days out of a planned forestry aerial pesticide application. Also requires reporting of application information within 2 business days of completion. All information would be posted on the ODF website.
SB 500 would eliminate the requirement to submit a timely “Report of Loss” form to the Oregon Department of Agriculture prior to filing a complaint regarding a pesticide application in court. This requirement is important to ensure that a proper investigation, complete with fact-finding by ODA, takes place in a timely manner.
OFS is strongly opposed to both bills. Watch for an Action Alert with more information for contacting your legislators.