Legislative Ag update Feb 10

By Oregonians for Food and Shelter,


The Capitol was bustling with activity during the first week of the legislative session. Bills were just introduced on Monday, and all of them will need to be ready for a vote next week. The ones that don’t make it through policy committee votes next week will be the first to die off. This compressed timeline leads to a packed schedule of hearings, lobbying, negotiating and drafting of amendments.


OFS was actively engaged this week on several issues impacting our members and the broader natural resources sector. Yesterday, the House Committee On Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water held a hearing on HB 4049, a proposal to study the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in biosolids applied to agricultural fields and crops. OFS met with many members of the committee and our fellow ag organizations to discuss concerns about the study design and intent, how to protect landowners, and ultimately, how to ensure the results are used for the benefit of growers rather than to target them. While the proposed amendments address some of our concerns, other concerns were not addressed. Because of that we remain opposed. While we expect the bill to pass out of committee, it will then be sent to Ways & Means where its ultimate fate will be decided.


Another primary bill garnering our focus, HB 4059, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday. The bill was intended to strike a fair solution for co-existence between specialty seed and canola growers in the Willamette Valley. Unfortunately, several groups and legislators continue proposing either arbitrary restrictions on crops, or broader bans on the use of innovation like genetic engineering. OFS opposes restrictions that unnecessarily restrict legal tools and technologies, and ignore the scientific consensus. We strongly oppose the current amendment, and will continue to oppose any version of HB 4059 that ignores science and restricts opportunities for some growers to prioritize others.


While these bills have been our primary focus so far during the short session, we will also be supporting our timber and ag partners in securing stable funding for wildfire protection. This is a critical effort to protect producers from continuing to pay an unfair share of the costs to protect against wildfire in Oregon. With this week’s updated economic forecast, we certainly believe there are funds to do so now, and we are tracking proposals that aim to ensure stability in the future.

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