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Greg Martin 05/04/05 Fruit inspection fee increase or not?,Pt1
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: May 04, 2005

Now if current timelines hold up, the Washington State Department of Agriculture plans to increase fees for unit-weight inspections for fruit and vegetables on July First, the first time in sixteen years for such an increase.

QUIGLEY: Back in (the) 93-94 bi-enium, the actual legislature pulled away some of the funding for the agency and looked at the user fee funded programs and actually asked them to pay their fair share in the overall operations of the program. And that really includes the Director, the Deputy, and really all of the services that the program benefits from.

And according to Jim Quigley of W.S.D.A. it is not so much the fee increase itself that has the fruit industry concerned.

QUIGLEY: The problem is is the fruit and vegetable program is the largest program within the agency, so the amount of money it pays is the largest part of the agency operation funding. Currently, its about $1.8 to $1.9 million dollars per bi-enium. And that covers a lot of services that benefit the program.

But a group of seven organizations making up a specialty crop coalition disagree with raising the inspection fees to cover in large part administration costs. That opposition was voiced at recent public hearings. But W.S.D.A. is willing to hear, and work with the specialty crop coalition to find alternatives to fee increases that will allow inspections to continue at current levels. Those meetings and other options are discussed in future programs.

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