Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Pesticide reporting system on hold

Mitch Lies Oregon Staff Writer 11/4/2005 

SALEM – Farmers can put down their pens. The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced this week it is delaying the start of pesticide use reporting until 2007.

The department reversed an earlier decision to require pesticide use reporting next year after realizing that it wouldn’t be ready to take data in time for growers to post next year’s use.

“We want to make sure the system is fully functional and all the bugs are worked out before we ask people to enter a year’s worth of data into it,” said department deputy director Lisa Hanson. “Ultimately, it is going to take a little longer than we initially anticipated.”

The department previously had asked farmers to keep records of pesticide use beginning Jan. 1 and to post those records electronically at some point next year.

The state’s pesticide use reporting system, dormant since the fall of 2002, was jump-started when the 2005 Legislature put $1.9 million into it for the 2005-07 biennium, with half to come from a surcharge on pesticide registration fees and half to come from the general fund.

The program, adopted by the 1999 Legislature, originally was scheduled to start Jan. 1, 2003. In the fall of 2002 when the state’s Emergency Board pulled funding from the program, it was four to six months from being operational, Hanson said.

She said the department has informed several system proponents of its decision, including Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office.

“The governor’s office is in agreement that this is a reasonable way to move forward with implementing the program,” she said.

An official from the Oregon Environmental Council – a key player in getting the system adopted in 1999 and getting it funded last session – said, however, that he was disappointed in the department’s decision.

“The implementation of this program from the beginning has been disappointing,” said Matt Blevins, legislative affairs director for the council. “The fact that six years after we passed this law we still don’t have one bit of information available on pesticide use in this state doesn’t seem to be in line with the original intent of the legislation. And now it is going to be three more years before we get information.”

Under the current timeline, the department will compile its first report on pesticide use in July 2008. Also under the current time line, growers are required to submit their 2007 pesticide use data no later than Jan. 30, 2008. Data must be submitted electronically by water basin and broken out into monthly use patterns.

The program is scheduled to sunset Dec. 31, 2009, but lawmakers could extend it.

Hanson said the department wanted to ensure that farmers “have a reasonable experience when they go into the system.”

“We want to make sure the system is user-friendly and make it easy for those reporting to meet the requirements of the new law,” she said.

Also, Hanson said, because funding the system was among the final actions taken by the Legislature – coming near the end of the session in mid-August – the department got a late start on its development. Also, she said, the company originally hired by the department to develop the system was busy on other projects and was unable to shift its focus to PURS when the funding was allocated.

The good news, Hanson said, is that the company hired to construct the system is able to use some of the startup work it previously had conducted.

The department will move forward with household surveys in 2006, Hanson said, and will begin charging pesticide manufacturers the $40 surcharge on registration fees used to fund half the system.

The department also plans to change administrative rules to reflect changes the 2005 Legislature made to the system in Senate Bill 290, including a change in reporting location from township, section and range to water basin.

Hanson said growers can download reporting forms from the department’s website if they want to begin keeping records in 2006 under a voluntary basis.

Mitch Lies is based in Salem. His e-mail address is mlies@capitalpress.com.



Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved