BOISE — The chairs of the Idaho Legislature’s House and Senate ag committees are encouraging the directors of the state’s commodity commissions to do a better job talking about the issues and challenges their industries face when speaking to lawmakers.
During every legislative session, farm commodity directors and administrators are invited to speak to the agricultural affairs committees.
Some of the presentations are more on the “here’s what we did last year” side and not enough on the “here are the issues our industry is struggling with” side, said Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, chairman of the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee.
Rice said he is trying to push those commission leaders to share their challenges so legislators can figure out how to help them or at least not get in their way.
“Some of the presentations seem too much of cheerleading presentations and we don’t talk enough about the challenges that they’re facing, the things that are causing their industry problems,” he said.
“I’m trying to ... make sure that we improve those presentations by addressing problems, challenges, areas where we may be falling behind or where we are headed down a road that’s going to be a problem,” Rice said.
Rice said he will expand that effort during the 2018 legislative session, which begins in January.
“This isn’t a criticism,” he said. “I want to know where there’s a challenge or if we’re doing something that’s creating a problem. It’s actually about finding solutions, about making sure that we’re doing the things that allow agriculture and business to prosper.”
Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, chairwoman of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, said that’s something she’s also trying to do.
“We want to know what the issues they are facing are,” said Boyle, a rancher. “That’s really the value of commissions to the legislature.”
Boyle said she has told commission leaders to share their challenges and encouraged them to bring their growers and commissioners and let them speak as well.
“Come and tell us if there are regulations that are harmful or obsolete,” she said. “Tell us about the issues you’re facing or the regulations that don’t make sense or get in the way.”
Boyle said she’s also told commission heads not to just hand the committee a financial statement and then read straight from it.
“Those (types of) things put you to sleep and make you want to cry,” she said. “We want to know what your issues are and how we can help you.”
Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir said the potato commission always seeks to communicate with legislators about the major issues the industry faces, and he’s glad Boyle and Rice are pushing for even more relevant details so they can help agriculture if possible.
“I don’t have a problem at all with what (they’re) trying to do,” he said. “I would welcome that. We’re not shy about talking about what our issues are.”