Legislative Ag Update Dec 13th

By Oregonians for Food and Shelter

The Legislature was back in the Capitol this week for the last quarterly “Legislative Days” of 2022. The Capitol is open and many legislators were present, albeit in a significantly smaller space. Construction in the Capitol has left only the office wings and one hallway of hearing rooms open to the public. Still, OFS was able to engage and learn more about issues we may see in 2023 as committees unveiled some of the proposed bills they intend to take up next session. We’ve also heard from stakeholders and partners about other bills in the works.

We know there will be a package of concepts related to chemicals in consumer products, updates to the Toxics Free Kids Act of 2015, and pesticide use on school grounds. OFS engagement on these bills will relate primarily to technical aspects including definitions and criteria for inclusion or exclusion of chemicals or classes of chemicals. As always, we will advocate for alignment with science and evidence if and when these concepts move forward.

We know there will be a focus on groundwater, particularly in light of the circumstances in Morrow County. The Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Committee is also once again considering a bill that would provide significant support for small farms and the organic industry. As we participate in conversations around natural resources budget priorities and intersections with major issues including climate, hunger, and food safety, we will continue to advocate for funding that serves broad needs and does not just favor a tiny fraction (1%) of Oregon’s industry and producers based on political preferences (see this recent report by a distinguished professor at UC Davis for more reading on this topic!).

On the proactive side, OFS staff has had productive conversations with legislators and stakeholders regarding our proactive concepts, including additional outreach staff for the Pesticide Analytical and Response Center as well as more funding to OSU’s IR-4 Program to support research on new pest management tools for Oregon’s specialty crops.

Legislative days only gives us a preview of the bills that committees will sponsor and introduce at the start of session. The full stack of initial bills will be released just before the start of the 2023 Legislative Session on January 17th, with bills introduced through most of February. Nearly a quarter of the legislature will be brand new and will likely introduce new bills. We hope to get more information soon about committee leadership and structure for 2023.

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