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Greg Martin 05/05/05 Fruit inspection fee increase or not?Pt.2
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: May 05, 2005

Inspection fees for fruit and vegetables in Washington State are scheduled to be increased on July First. The reason for the increase is in part to cover increased administrative costs. However, organizations representing the tree fruit, potato, and onion industries have formed a specialty crop coalition to oppose the fee hike. Explaining the coalitions argument is Jim Hazen of the Washington State Horticultural Association.

HAZEN: You have producers paying into this fruit and vegetable inspection program. And you have almost a million dollars a year being taken out of that fund and being shifted to Olympia to cover administrative overhead. If the Department of Agriculture would quit taking that fund shift, theyre be no need to raise fees in the fruit and vegetable inspection program.

The opposition has led to efforts between the coalition and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to find alternatives to a fee increase, including a series of meetings between the parties tentatively set for the middle of this month. So Jim Quigley of W.S.D.A. could this mean that the July First implementation date is not set in stone?

QUIGLEY: Now there could be a contingency filed to delay that. We are wanting and willing to work with the industry and to identify those services that are no value to them or are no benefit.

But there is one other option the specialty crop coalition is exploring to prevent the fee increase from taking place. More on that in our next program.

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