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Greg Martin 05/06/05 Fruit inspection fee increase or not?Pt.3
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: May 06, 2005

A coalition of Washington State specialty crop industry members are opposed to a considered inspection fee increase set to take effect July First. Their opposition stems from the ability of the Washington State Department of Agriculture to take monies collected from such fees and use them to cover administrative costs. Jim Quigley of W.S.D.A. says his agency wants to work with the coalition to find a solution, and is setting up a series of meetings later this month to discuss just that. That might mean having the specialty crop industry determine what other W.S.D.A. programs are not of as high priority.

QUIGLEY: Right now, export is a big market for this apple industry as well as the pears. We dont want to eliminate staff to the point where its going to have some timing on delivery of services to the industry.

But Jim Hazen of the Washington State Horticultural Association says another option comes from supporters of the specialty crop industry.

HAZEN: Senator Honeyford from Yakima has asked for a formal Attorney Generals opinion to determine whether or not the Department has statutory authority to indeed rob this account if you will, every year.

And Hazen adds Ag Director Valora Loveland has said if the A.G.s office rules W.S.D.A. does not have statutory authority, then her agency would quit taking funds out of the inspection program, and therefore render any proposed inspection fee increase mute.

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