News from the WA State Farm Bureau Newswatch
SKAGIT COUNTY HAS DECIDED TO GIVE UP ON CRAFTING A BUFFER ORDINANCE to protect salmon, and instead will look for an alternative that more people will support. (Skagit Valley Herald, June 12) The current ordinance, which requires farmers to pick one of several buffer options by Nov. 20, will remain in effect until the County Commission comes up with an alternative. The county will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 25, at the Skagit Valley College cafeteria to begin the process. Planning Director Tom Karsh said one problem with the buffer ordinance is that it assumes ongoing agriculture is bad for salmon, but local farmers have convinced the commission and county staff that preserving agriculture is the best thing for salmon.
THE BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF WASHINGTON WEDNESDAY TURNED in more than 145,000 signatures to place Referendum 53 on the ballot this fall. (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 13) A “yes” vote on the referendum would uphold a law passed this year by the Legislature that adjusts the amount of unemployment insurance taxes paid by various industries. A “no” vote would repeal the law, which the builders contend is unfair to the construction industry. Unemployed construction workers, like seasonal agricultural workers, often receive benefits based on an annualized wage, rather than their actual wages.
THE U.S. SENATE WEDNESDAY REJECTED AN EFFORT TO PERMANENTLY REPEAL federal estate taxes. (Seattle Times, June 13) Sixty votes were needed to overcome Senate budget rules and bring the tax measure to a vote. That effort failed 54-44. Both of Washington’s senators, Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, voted against allowing the measure to come to a vote. Last year, Congress voted to phase out the “death tax” by 2010, but it would return to pre-2001 levels in 2011. The U.S. House last week voted to make the repeal permanent.
BIOTECH CROPS GROWN IN THE UNITED STATES LAST YEAR PRODUCED MORE per acre than conventional varieties, reduced the need for pesticides, and boosted farm income, according to a study by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy. (Reuters/Planet Ark, June 12) An analysis of biotech soybeans, corn, cotton, papaya, squash and canola showed the plants have the potential to increase yields by 10 million pounds per year, cut farm costs by $400 million, and reduce pesticide use by 117 million pounds. Already, 74 percent of the 73 million acres of soybeans grown in the United States are biotech varieties.
TWO MEMBERS OF EARTH FIRST, A RADICAL ENVIRONMENT ORGANIZATION, were awarded $4.4 million after suing the FBI and Oakland, Calif., police for false arrest, illegal search, slanderous statements and conspiracy. (AP/Spokesman-Review, June 12) Darryl Cherney and Judi Bari, who died of cancer in 1997, were arrested in 1990, after a bomb exploded under the backseat of their car. Investigators accused them of planning to use the bomb in an act of sabotage in a logging protest when it went off accidentally. The charges were dropped when prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence against the two. (Sacramento Bee, June 12)
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS PROPOSED CUTTING TREES UP TO 31-INCHES IN diameter at Yosemite National Park to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires. (Los Angeles Times, June 12) The National Park Service previously limited selective logging to trees no more than a foot in diameter, relying on controlled burns to clear undergrowth. Environmentalists complained the Park Service wants to open up old-growth trees to commercial logging, but park officials said the cuts would be restricted to less than 4,000 acres – about a half percent of the park’s area – near buildings and campgrounds.
Ó 2002 Washington Farm Bureau. NewsWatch is a daily update on news of interest to agriculture. Contact Dean Boyer, director of public relations, 1-800-331-3276 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive NewsWatch by fax or e-mail.
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