The Legislature kicked into high gear this week as we approach constitutional adjournment on Sunday. Both the House and Senate have spent long days on the chamber floors, breaking only for quick committee meetings to pass through final budget and policy bills.
Engaging on bills is challenging at this stage, as public hearing notices and amendments can be posted with just one hour’s notice. OFS continues to track a few bills in these late stages. SB 789, the bill that would make permanent the 500 acre restriction on growing canola within the Willamette Valley was amended to simply extend the sunset on the 500 acre restriction for one more year. The bill now directs ODA to present a concept for a public pinning process, as well as to convene a stakeholder workgroup. ODA is directed to provide recommendations to the Legislature this fall. We are glad to see that legislators rejected a permanent restriction and instead focused on a goal of increased coexistence.
HB 3409 has become a very large omnibus bill termed the “climate package,” incorporating a broad range of environmental bills from earlier in the session, some of which OFS has opposed. OFS joined a coalition opposing this omnibus approach, which has a large number of complex concepts being pushed through without appropriate vetting. OFS is working with other groups to provide statements for the Senate Floor regarding our concerns about this approach and some individual concepts now contained within the bill.
Major budget allocations were also completed this week, and OFS has combed through those to see which natural resource programs received funding, and which did not. We are concerned with the failure of the legislature to fund wildfire costs and instead shift that cost burden to landowners. The OSU Statewide Programs were funded well under their requested levels to bolster funding for experiment stations and technical support for farmers, but will be able to maintain continued service levels this next biennium. The final gavel will drop and the Legislature will adjourn sometime this weekend. Stay tuned for our End of Session Report in the coming weeks.
Extended Producer Responsibility and the Recycling Modernization Act: OFS submitted two
Covered Product Exemption Requests this week to Oregon DEQ, one for products regulated under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), and the other for fertilizer products and other agricultural chemicals. Many of these products are already exempted from the new recycling program with the existing farm and nursery product exemption. Our two requests would align with the existing exemptions to eliminate confusion related to end markets, and to further protect against environmental health and safety concerns around agricultural chemicals in the commingled recycling stream.
PARC Biennial Report:Oregon’s Pesticide Analytical and Response Center (PARC) has released its biennial report for FY 2019-2021 this week. PARC collects and analyzes reported incidents of possible pesticide exposures impacting human health or the environment. Notably, the majority of cases reported to PARC during the 19-21 biennium (61%) were categorized as “concerns” rather than incidents, involving questions or concerns about a nearby treatment, or claims of incidents that could not be substantiated.
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