Lawmakers weigh funding decision on pesticide programs
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Oregon legislators might have to decide between two popular pesticide programs when they finalize the state Department of Agriculture's budget.
In a hearing April 29, ODA Director Katy Coba revealed that if lawmakers pull general funds from the Pesticide Analytical Response Center, the center and the Pesticide Stewardship Partnership program would be in competition for the same pot of fee-based funds.
And there isn't enough pesticide-registration-fee revenue to go around, Coba said.
To fully fund the Pesticide Analytical Response Center out of pesticide registration fees, lawmakers will have to cut the Pesticide Stewardship Partnership program in half, Coba said.
"All of those things are inter-related," Coba said in discussing the future of PARC before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.
Gov. John Kitzhaber proposed $340,451 in general funds go to the analytical response center in his recommended budget.
But Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, said lawmakers are looking for general funds to help balance the state budget, and natural resource agencies could be targeted.
Coba put PARC first on the department's cut list. But, she said: "The industry places PARC at a higher priority than they do the PSP."
The response center currently is funded by pesticide registration fees -- fees dedicated under Kitzhaber's recommended 2013-15 budget to the Pesticide Stewardship Program.
The stewardship program is earmarked for approximately $750,000 in general funds and $750,000 in pesticide registration fees over the next biennium.
The department plans to raise the annual pesticide registration fee from the current $160 per pesticide formulation to $200 in the 2015-17 biennium, but it has no plans to raise the fees this biennium.
The department registers between 11,000 and 12,000 pesticide formulations for sale in Oregon each year, according to the department.
Formed in 1978, PARC investigates pesticide-related incidents that have suspected health effects.
The Pesticide Stewardship Partnership program, formed in 2000, uses a voluntary approach to improve water quality problems caused by pesticide use.
The PSP is administered by the Department of Environmental Quality in conjunction with ODA.