BOISE — A new state rule that would require soybean seed to be inspected before entering the state has passed an important initial hurdle in the 2014 Idaho Legislature.
Senate and House agricultural affairs sub-committees have recommended that their full committees approve the pending rule, which was developed at the request of the state’s dry bean industry.
Agriculture-related rules must be rejected by both the House and Senate ag committees in order to be overturned.
Idaho is the nation’s top dry bean seed producing state because of strict testing guidelines that require bean seed to undergo serology testing and be certified disease-free.
While total soybean acres in Idaho are minimal and have fluctuated between 45 and 315 during the past four years, bean industry leaders are concerned that soybean seed is coming into the state uninspected.
That seed has the potential to bring in diseases that are harmful to dry beans, said Don Tolmie, an agronomist with Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale and a member of the Idaho Bean Commission.
The IBC sent a letter to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture last year stating that if non-inspected soybean seed were to bring in diseases such as soybean cyst nematode and striped rust, they could easily be transferred to dry beans and significantly harm that industry.
The state’s dry bean industry brought in a record $104 million in cash receipts last year, according to estimates by University of Idaho agricultural economists.
“The commission feels there is significant value in protecting the existing dry bean industry,” Tolmie said. “The bean industry is very vulnerable to these particular diseases.”
Uninspected soybean seed does “represent a potential threat to import these bacterial diseases,” said Mike Cooper, bureau chief of ISDA’s plant industries division.
He said the new soybean inspection rules and fee schedule closely mirror the existing dry bean rules, which have been in place since the early 1960s.
“This rule is patterned on that because you’re looking at the same diseases, same testing and same detection methods,” he said.
Dry bean farmer Leonard Andrew of Caldwell told lawmakers that he is “the culprit that came up with this idea.”
Andrew said he asked himself one day, “If we get bean anthracnose in (Idaho), what is that going to do to our industry? I thought it would be a good idea to be proactive in preventing those potential problems.”
Ensuring that soybean seed adheres to the same testing requirements as dry bean seed is fair and makes sense, Dennis Tanikuni, assistant director of public affairs for Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, told lawmakers.
“We think it’s a fair rule,” he said. “It places soybeans under the same requirements as the existing dry bean industry.”