Local farmers speak out on commission report

Jackson County OregonFarmers, community members and GMO-free activists filled the Jackson County Commissioners meeting on March 19th to demand the commission retract cost claims made for ballot measure 15-119, a measure restricting the growing of Genetically Engineered crops in the Rogue Valley.

According to a report by County Administrator Danny Jordan, enforcement of the measure could cost the county a minimum of $219,000 per year.  According to Jordan, enforcement of the measure would require a full-time code inspector, time dedicated from a hearings officer, a contractor for testing and other county resources,

GMO free activists counter that argument, saying there is nothing in the ballot measure that would make it mandatory for the county to enforce the law.

“We feel like they were full of inaccuracies and they owe us to have a responsible cost estimate,” said Elise Higley with Our Family Farms. “I hope that they will just act prudently and retract the report and come up with an unbiased and truly neutral report on the proposed costs.”

Higley says local farmers want more research to be done by the board to come up with accurate numbers.

“They should have contacted the three counties that have already passed the ban on GMO’s and with our research and talking to them, they have had minimal to no cost what so ever,” Higley said.

At the public hearing, Commissioner Don Skundrick conceded that the measure could cost thousands or nothing at all depending on how the new ban is enforced.

“The administration said early on the numbers estimate and it may cost nothing. if no one complains and we don’t have to do anything the cost to the county would be zero,” Skundrick said.

Commissioners say they will take all public comments into consideration and discuss the issue before elections in May.

If voters approve it in May, Measure 15-199 would be unique among Oregon’s 36 counties. The Oregon Legislature has since voted to pre-empt local regulation of genetically modified crops, allowing only the Jackson County measure to be grandfathered in.