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Seed bill heads to governor's desk for passage


Barring veto, contract protections for seed farmers take effect Aug. 1


By MITCH LIES


Capital Press


SALEM -- The Oregon Legislature has sent Gov. John Kitzhaber a bill establishing a default contract in grass seed production, after the House on June 2 adopted Senate amendments.


"This will give some certainty to farmers that they will eventually get paid for their product," Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said in support of the bill in a speech on the House floor.


"For us to do something for grass seed farmers is something extraordinary," said Rep. Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton.


Two years ago this month, lawmakers initiated a ban on field burning in the Willamette Valley.


"I am very pleased about what this bill does for farmers in my district and other districts around the state," Gilliam said.


Without a governor veto, the bill will take effect Aug. 1.


Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, said in a Senate floor speech on May 19 that the bill became necessary after "poorly written and unenforceable contracts led to people not living up to those agreements, because they didn't have to."


House Bill 2159 establishes payment dates, establishes remedies for price disputes and stipulates responsibilities for storing seed.


The bill also gives the Oregon Department of Agriculture authority to require dealers to post bonds or provide other financial assurances.


HB2159 stipulates that if seed is planted prior to when a contract is signed, a dealer must pay a grower 30 days after seed delivery or by May 1 of the year after harvest, whichever occurs first.


If a contract is signed prior to planting, two options are in play. Under one, a dealer agrees to pay the full amount of the contract 30 days after delivery or by May 1, whichever comes first; or a dealer can pay 40 percent of the payment by March 15 of the year after harvest with the remainder of the payment stated in the contract.


Also under the bill, in cases where contracts are not signed prior to planting, dealers are responsible for storage beginning 30 days after a valid seed test.


Storage responsibility is negotiable in cases where contracts are signed prior to planting.



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