Washington farmers will pay increased fees for agricultural burning beginning Jan. 1.
The state's Agricultural Burning Practices and Research Task Force, which decides agricultural burning fees, specified these fees:
* Field burning: $30 for the first 10 acres; $3 for each additional acre.
* Spot burning: $30 for 10 acres or less.
* Pile burning: $80 for the first 100 tons; 50 cents for each additional ton.
Members of the task force represent the state Department of Ecology, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, local air quality authorities, the agricultural community, universities, health agencies and conservation districts.
Agricultural groups spoke in favor of the increase during the 2010 legislative session.
"The program has been a success by all measures," Jim Jesernig said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Economic Development. "It allows clean-air advocates and farmers to have their say."
Jesernig, governmental relations consultant for the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, said his organization supports the increase in fees "to keep the program fiscally sound."
The Legislature passed the proposed amendment, increasing the permit fee cap from $2.50 per acre to a maximum of $3.75 per acre. This is the first increase to the fee cap since 1991.
Ecology oversees agricultural burning to protect public health while keeping burning available as an important tool for farmers. Ecology's Air Quality Program does this by providing smoke management services seven days a week, including holidays, to help farmers.
-- Steve Brown
Washington Department of Ecology: www.ecy.wa.gov