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Grain lobbyist looks ahead to 2013 issues


Capital Press

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The Washington grain industry's lobbyist predicts farmers may be in for a bumpy ride next year when the state Legislature meets.

Jim Jesernig said Gov.-elect Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is more liberal than current Gov. Chris Gregoire, but will have to govern from the middle.

"We're going to have to sit down and have a long discussion on how to build a working relationship" with Inslee, Jesernig said.

Jesernig said Initiative 1185, which was just passed in the election and requires a supermajority in the Legislature to raise taxes, may not be constitutional. A court decision on the matter is likely before the legislative session begins Jan. 14, he said.

If the two-thirds majority requirement is struck down in court, various tax credits and sales tax exemptions on fertilizer and pesticides are in jeopardy, he said.

"If that's taken away, just add 8 percent to your ag chemical bill and that's what you get to pay," he said.

Tax exemptions on repair parts and off-road fuel are also in play as the House Democratic leadership looks for ways to increase revenue, Jesernig said.

Water standards

Potential new water quality standards for livestock have raised concerns about a state Department of Ecology mandate to direct-seed, but Jesernig said that's not Ecology's focus. Ecology may require a nutrient management plan or a manure-applicator license for livestock owners with more than 25 head.

Jesernig recommended grain farmers sit down with Ecology to determine where direct seeding works and doesn't work.

Notice buffer

Jesernig also expects a pesticide buffer notice bill in the Legislature, requiring half-mile buffers on structures or anyplace a person could be, including roads.

"Just think about how well your entire spray season would work if you had a half-mile buffer on every road around your farm," he said.

Farmers would be required to put notices on the door of private property informing of their intent to spray.

GMO labels

A bill to label genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, will also resurface, he predicted. An initiative will go to the Legislature if sponsors obtain 250,000 signatures.

Legislators can adopt the initiative as is, amend it and put the original initiative and the amended version on the 2013 ballot or put only the original version on the ballot.

"This issue is going to at least be a legislative issue," Jesernig said.

Jesernig addressed the Washington working lunch component of the Tri-State Grain Growers Convention Nov. 12 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.


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