<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>96 Current State Legislative Session Will Set the Tone for Two Years, Jim White, Wheat Life</TITLE> </HEAD> <body bgcolor="FFFFFF" text="000000" link="0000FF" vlink="FF0000" alink="0000FF"> <basefont face="Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000033"> <TABLE border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0"> <TR align="left" valign="top"> <td><small> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/thefilm.htm">the film</A><br> <A href="forum.htm">forum</A><br> <A href="library.htm">library</A><br> <A href="tutorial.htm">tutorial</A><br> <A href="contact.htm">contact</A> </small></td> <TD> Commentaries and editorials <TD> <CENTER><FONT FACE="Arial, Helvetica" COLOR="0000FF"> <strong><BIG><H2 align="center">Current State Legislative Session
Will Set the Tone for Two Years</H2> </BIG></STRONG></FONT><FONT COLOR="FF0000">by Jim White, WAWG President <BR>Wheat Life, February 2007</FONT></CENTER> </TABLE> <HR> <P align="left"> It's a cold but sunny morning and here in my office I am looking at many piles of paper on my desk. Most of them represent work that needs to be done before spring work starts and I am hoping spring is a little wet and field work will start late. There is lots of the paper work that relates to the farm: what equipment needs repair, or will it last a little longer; what spring crops to plan for seed, fertilizer and, oh yes, what will be the price of diesel. The real problem with this paper work is how to make all of my planning fit within the farm budget for the 07 crop year.

There are also piles of papers about things WAWG needs to work on during this legislative session. As the new legislature begins to work on its budget, growers need to communicate with these officials the importance of the issues that face produc- tion agriculture. This session will produce a budget for this two-year biennium. The legislators will also determine how much money goes to what projects, if any. And let me tell you right now, the line for money and projects is already quite long.

All of production agriculture will need to make a good case for our issues and projects. WAWG has a strong presence in Olympia in the person of Heather Hanson, our lobbyist. The job we as growers need to do is define our issues and sometimes, when needed, defend those issues. This takes time, but no one else is going to do this for agriculture. It is our job.

WAWG, as well as other ag groups, will monitor the session to make every effort to move legislation out of committees and pass that legislation in both the House and Senate-legislation that will help keep wheat growers profitable in the coming years.

One of the issues WAWG will be working hard on this year is taxes. WAWG will work to expand the sales and use tax exemptions on farm equipment. We have some equipment already exempt and now we need to take steps to expand the list of equipment, as well as including parts and labor. Working with our legislators, WAWG intends to move forward to a complete tax exemption on all ag equipment plus parts and labor.

Washington is one of only a very few states that collects taxes on farm equipment. This tax is an added cost to Washington farmers that farmers in other states don't have. You may think this added cost is not a factor but as we compete in a world market for sales, this "little cost" can be the difference between making a sale or not.

Transportation has always been a working issue for WAWG. Wheat growers need to move crops from their fields to market. This does not sound like a big deal until you realize that our markets are overseas and our crops need to move to Vancouver or Portland. The cost of that transportation is a huge factor in us winning markets.

We are lucky to have three modes of transportation in our state-roads, rails and rivers. We need all three working together to keep freight cost in check. Any increase in costs can mean the difference between profit and loss. Our state government should do more to improve all types of infrastructure-roads, rail and rivers. All three need to be upgraded and maintained. The legislature needs to finish the job of purchasing and upgrading the Palouse River-Coulee City Railroad by WSDOT as they directed in 2006.

The minimal pool of water behind the dams needs to be maintained and deepened as needed to keep barges and ships moving along the river system. Along with this, lock and dams need to be upgraded and maintained.

There is a WSU Agriculture Research Initiative before our legislators in Olympia and WAWG is in full support of the initiative. I know that when WSU brings world-class researchers together in new hi-tech labs, new and exciting research that we can all benefit from happens. Research on plants and animals will soon spill over to amazing human research.

The current legislative session will set the tone for the next two years. We need to be there.

There are many other issues to work on as well, such as water, pesticides, and health, to name a few.

WAWG representatives will be in Olympia February 18, 19 and 20, to talk to legislators-to tell our story. Come join us. If you see an area where you could help, come join us. It is just a few days and, with your added voice, we can make a difference. Come join together with us.

Contact your local county association and ask how you can help. Contact the WAWG office in Ritzville at 800-598-6890 and ask how you can help. Come join WAWG in Olympia in February.

<HR> <strong>Jim White</strong>, WAWG President<br> <A href="http://www.wheatlifemagazine.com/0207/pg03_0207.pdf"> <I>Current State Legislative Session Will Set the Tone for Two Years</I></a><BR> <strong>Wheat Life</STRONG>, February 2007 <HR> <P align="center"><CENTER> <BIG><strong>See what you can learn</STRONG></BIG><P> <A href="topic.htm">learn more on topics covered in the film</A><BR> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/video.htm">see the video</A><BR> <A href="script.htm">read the script</A><BR> <A href="songs.htm">learn the songs</A><BR> <A href="forum.htm">discussion forum</A><BR> <IMG src="salmon_swimming_md_wht.gif" width=150 height=70 alt="salmon animation"> </CENTER> </basefont> </body> </HTML>