On Tuesday, OAN Government Relations Committee members heard an update from the Oregon Department of Agriculture on the state nursery license fee. Lisa Hanson, deputy director of ODA, said the issue is getting a careful look. ODA had announced a 29 percent fee increase in January, but withdrew it due to concerns from growers and the OAN.
The license-fee-supported program provides inspections to verify that Oregon plant material is free of pathogens and diseases, thereby assuring continuing access to national and international markets. Hanson said the program has lost $665,000 over the last three years, and the major cause is an ongoing decline in federal revenue ($730,000 in 2011 vs. $249,000 in 2015). As a result, its cash balance is under $500,000. Annual program costs are more than $2 million.
Members in attendance said they greatly value the inspection program. Some encouraged ODA officials to consider measures to either make the program more efficient by reducing vehicle miles traveled, or consider separate fees for certain services.
Hanson said that due to timing requirements for rulemaking, another proposal will need to be announced soon. She indicated that officials will try to lessen the fiscal impact on growers.