Growers, dealers dispute fairness of ag bills
By MITCH LIES
ALBANY, Ore. -- Two grass seed groups will have lobbyists presenting their positions to lawmakers on three bills before the 2011 Oregon Legislature.
The Oregon Seed Trade Association has hired Portland lobbyist Brian Doherty to try to defeat Senate Bill 790 and two companion bills.
The bills recently were introduced by the Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association.
The bargaining association has hired lobbyist Inga Deckert to argue in support of SB790, SB788 and SB789.
OSTA President Bill Dunn said the association believes SB790 inhibits free enterprise in the grass seed industry and worsens the industry's position on the world market.
"We don't want to have all these legislative protections for the growers at the expense of the dealers' position in the world market," Dunn said.
SB790 provides default terms when grower-dealer contracts are in dispute. Among bill provisions, dealers must pay growers by May 1 of the year after harvest, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture would resolve price disputes.
Dunn said the association views the bill as slanted in favor of growers, and is "concerned about having state legislation involved in a free-enterprise business."
Mark Simmons, executive director of the Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association, said it is inaccurate to characterize SB790 as an attack on free enterprise.
"I don't think (growers) have had freedom of contracts in a long time," Simmons said.
Mike Baker, senior vice president of Pennington Seed in Lebanon, Ore., said at a meeting in Albany, Feb. 25, he believes SB790 allows dealers and growers contract flexibility and provides an "equitable balance of power" to both parties.
SB788 gives accreditation to the bargaining association. SB789 requires dealers to obtain a bond.
At the meeting in Albany, Simmons said the association is introducing SB788 to ensure seed dealers bargain with the association in good faith.
SB789 would provide growers some recompense in cases where dealers default on contracts, Simmons said.