Early Ag bills in upcoming Legislature

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By Oregonians for Food and Shelter,
Last week the legislature convened in Salem for the January legislative and organizational days. These days are typically reserved to prepare bills and budget requests for the upcoming short session, but all that anyone could talk about was the latest version of the carbon cap-and-trade bill.
On Monday the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on LC 19 (cap-and-trade).  The latest cap-and-trade bill looks a lot like HB 2020 but now includes partial rate relief for natural gas customers and manufacturers.  Other highlights include:
  • LC 19 would give authority over the program to unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Environmental Quality.
  • LC 19 would regulate fuels sold in the Portland Metro area beginning in 2020 and then expand that regulation to nearly 100 Oregon cities in 2025.  According to testimony from the Oregon Fuels Association, this proposal is not workable, and all Oregonians will be subject to significant on- and off-road fuel cost increases in 2022.
  • LC 19 fails to protect rural propane customers; propane users will face significant cost increases to heat their homes, protect their orchards, and process their crops.
Despite claims from the bill’s supporters, farmers, ranchers, and loggers are still on the hook for thousands of dollars in added input costs in 2022.  The public has been invited to provide feedback on LC 19, and we encourage you to look at Oregon Farm Bureau’s talking points and action alert for messages to share with the committee.  Send your testimony to the committee by February 2.
In addition to the flurry of activity on cap-and-trade, OFS was busy tracking a litany of other bills and gearing up our advocacy on issues impacting our members. Both agriculture and forestry practices are in the cross-hairs in various House committees.
The House Health Care Committee approved introduction of LC 265, which would apply new restrictions on the application of chlorpyrifos, and ultimately ban the use in Oregon by 2022. In addition to the impact on current applications of chlorpyrifos, the bill sets a dangerous precedent for aerial application and the other restrictions on critical products in the ag and forestry sectors.
Specific to forestry, LC 229, introduced by the House Rules Committee prohibits aerial application of pesticides within 500 horizontal feet of “forest waters” in addition to prohibiting clear cuts. LC 229 mimics Initiative Petition 35, which was rejected by the Secretary of State. Another bill coming from House Rules, LC 218, will require the Board of Forestry to obtain approval from the Environmental Quality Commission when adopting water quality standards.
The full list of bills will still be published later this month, and there are sure to be more challenges for the natural resources industries in light of the significant uphill climb we face in 2020. Please stay engaged in the legislative process throughout the month.