BOISE — The $50 compensation that Idaho Dairy Products Commission members receive could be increased up to $150 under a bill making its way through the Idaho Legislature.
Other farm commissions in Idaho are keeping an eye on the bill to see how it fares and could introduce similar legislation in following years.
“We’re watching to see how it plays out,” said Pat Kole, vice president of legal and government affairs for the Idaho Potato Commission. The compensation rate for the IPC’s nine members is $15.
The legislation sailed through the House by a 65-0 vote and is waiting to be voted on by the full Senate.
The nine members of the IDPC receive a $50 honorarium for each day they are engaged in official commission business. They are also reimbursed for travel and other expenses.
House Bill 495 bill would authorize the commission to increase the maximum amount of the honorarium up to $150.
Rep. John, Vander Woude, R-Nampa, a former dairyman who introduced the bill, told fellow lawmakers the current $50 amount was set in 1980. Divided by the actual time commissioners spend engaged in official business, “it doesn’t even equal minimum wage.”
If that amount were adjusted for inflation, it would work out to $140 today, he said.
Idaho code allows commissions and other state agencies to choose from 17 different sections that outline how members are compensated.
Forty-four other state agencies or groups have chosen the same option the dairy commission has that allows them to compensate members up to $50 a day.
Instead of trying to change Idaho code and involving all those other groups, the commission opted to just change its own statute, said Idaho Dairymen’s Association Executive Director Bob Naerebout.
Idaho Wheat Commission member Bill Flory said the IWC hasn’t discussed the possibility of increasing its $50 compensation rate, but he also said the amount commissioners are paid doesn’t come close to making up for how much they lose by spending time away from their jobs.
“It wouldn’t come close to covering it, but that’s factored in when you take the job,” said Flory, a north Idaho farmer. “Right now it’s not on our radar screen. Could it be? I suppose it could.”
The Idaho Bean Commission pays its members $15 compensation.
IBC member Don Tolmie said the amount is far less than what commissioners give up by leaving their jobs, but not a factor in people deciding to serve.
“I’m not sure what we do with all the money,” Tolmie joked. “That’s the last reason anyone serves on a commission.”