2019 Session Update
2019 Legislative Session
This has been a busy session! We are closing in on the final month and with the recent delay on the corporate tax for education behind us, we anticipate bills and budgets to begin moving quickly through the process. For OSA and our lobby team, this session has been about gaining recognition, credibility and building support.
On March 4, over 20 OSA members attended our Advocacy Day, sharing the vision of the organization to 30 legislators and staff, as well as anyone in the building who stopped by our booth that highlighted the lifecycle of seed from research and development to exports. We had many visitors drop in to ask questions and get information, as well as a free bag of wildflower seed. Several of our seed lab members were on hand to explain the various interactive exhibits (seed sorting and growout stations) as well as the various species of Oregon seed on display.
As you may know, Pac/West came on board as our lobbyist team this session and represented OSA in the Capitol on a daily basis, whether attending hearings, monitoring bills, or meeting with legislators. They were also involved each week at Ag Lobby, where agricultural groups such as Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Seed Council, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, Oregon Cattleman, Oregon State University, ODA, and others, met to discuss legislation and items of interest to the industry.
Through the networking and relationships formed with Ag Lobby groups, OSA joined several coalitions to take positions on various pieces of legislation:
- HB 2264 SUPPORT – Property Tax exemption on farm equipment. (Died and will be an interim workgroup)
- SB 885 SUPPORT – Limits canola to 500 acres in Willamette Valley. (In Ways and Means)
- HB 5002 and 5003 SUPPORT – ODA Budget. (Budget and fee bill Passed)
- SB 257 SUPPORT – OSU Statewide funding, which includes the labs. (In Ways and Means)
- HB 2619 OPPOSE – Ban of Chlorpyrifos. (Died in Committee)
- HB 3427 OPPOSE – Corporate Tax on Business. (Passed both chambers)
- SB 509 SUPPORT – Legal transfer of hay. (Passed)
- HB 2236 SUPPORT – Tractors on highways. (Passed)
- HB 2020 OPPOSE – Carbon Reduction “Cap and Trade.” (Still in Committee)
- HB 2444 SUPPORT – ODA to help FFA students with college preparation and success. (In Committee)
Seed Coalition Work Group
By James Schneider, Legislative Chair
The proposed legislation put forward by the OSA was pulled from this year’s Legislative Session by joint agreement with OGSBA. One of the outcomes of this effort was a realization that the grass seed industry needs to find some points of agreement. To support that effort, there have been several meetings held with representatives from OSA, OGSBA and Oregon Seed Council. While the first thrust of these meetings was a focus on the bills put forth by OSA and OGSBA, they have evolved to a goal of finding common ground before approaching the more nuanced need for data and data collection. While the wheels of cooperation do move slowly at times, it does feel like these meetings have been fruitful and are already yielding some items that the industry agrees on.
Points of agreement:
- We are against consumer fraud
- We care about value and integrity in the industry
- No one wants to ban VNS
- We need a way to legitimize VNS (to protect variety integrity and breeders’ royalties)
- We believe data gathering is important for different reasons to different parts of the industry. If you can measure it, you can improve it.
The above points are a good foundation to build trust from. The OSA, OGSBA and Oregon Seed Council are in complete agreement that we all want the grass seed industry to remain relevant, profitable, and in Oregon as much as possible. We also all agree that the industry is rapidly changing and that if we don’t address relevant and even controversial topics, one day we easily could wake up to only a “shell” of what Oregon once represented.
We will continue to attend these meetings representing the interests of the Oregon Seed Association. In the short-term, the focus will be to come to a consensus on a definition of what a “variety” is, legitimize and regulate VNS, and incorporate the use of data to bring value and integrity to the industry.