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Lawmakers make few tweaks to Oregon farm laws in 2018

Oregon lawmakers clarified laws related to hemp, seed contracts and “granny flats” in 2018. Proposals to cap carbon emissions and tie depredation funding to wolf numbers died in committee.
Mateusz Perkowski

Capital Press

Published on March 7, 2018 11:07AM

Last changed on March 7, 2018 11:42AM

SALEM — A “cap-and-trade” proposal to limit carbon emissions didn’t pass muster during Oregon’s 2018 legislative session, comforting critics who feared increased fuel, fertilizer and electricity costs.

Several other less-prominent bills related to agriculture also died in committee when the Legislature adjourned March 3, including a proposal to link depredation funding to the size of Oregon’s wolf population.

The bill was supported by ranchers, who said it made sense to increase compensation for livestock losses and preventive measures as the predators grew more common.

However, the proposal was criticized by environmental groups who claimed there’s opportunity for fraud and abuse in the disbursal of existing compensation funds.

A proposal to clarify that water transfers are allowable between storage reservoirs likewise died in committee, though lawmakers, irrigators and other interested parties will be negotiating the issue before the start of the 2019 legislative session.

Land use bills that would allow more commercial and industrial development on farmland in Eastern Oregon and the eventual urbanization of 1,700 acres of “rural reserve” in Washington County did not gain traction.

However, land use laws did receive a couple minor tweaks.

Lawmakers clarified that earlier legislation easing the construction of “accessory dwelling units,” commonly called “granny flats,” only applied within urban growth boundaries.

They also made clear that equine therapy activities are allowed within “exclusive farm use” zones.

Statutory language related to hemp production was brought in line with the 2014 Farm Bill, which is intended to allow Oregon State University Extension agents to help hemp farmers.

In addition, House Bill 4089 creates a certification program at OSU to verify different varieties of hemp seed in the same manner other seed crops grown in Oregon are verified.

Contractual protections for grass seed were extended to cover other types of proprietary seed, such as clover, radish and turnip, under House Bill 4068.

Legislation passed in 2011 initially excluded those types of seed from requirements for timely payment, but farmers and seed companies negotiated an expansion of the contract protections that was approved in 2018 without controversy.


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