Glenn County raises nut inspection fees
When nut processors complained about the proposed increase in phytosanitary inspection certificate fees, the Board of Supervisors kept the hike to a minimum.
The fee was raised earlier this month to $55 for commercial shipping certificates and $4 per acre for field walks in addition to the $35 field inspection fee.
County Agricultural Commissioner Jim Donnelly had asked that the fee for commercial shipping inspection certificates be raised from $40 to $70, as the fees had not been increased in 12 years.
He also sought a $1.25 per acre increase in field inspection fees with the base fee remaining at $35 and the per acre charge to rise from $3 an acre to $4.25.
However, the supervisors were reluctant to go that high after nut processors complained during a public hearing that the hike was too high.
Barbara Smith with Riverwest Processing in Ord Bend said the fee hike would have meant a $33,000 hit for her company that fumigates its nut shipments in a certified fumigation chamber.
Smith said the firm had never had any insect or other infestations in its decade in business, nor has it required county inspections of every shipment because it has the fumigation chamber.
She also said the 75 percent increase "was not justified."
Tim Merrill, general manager of Omega Walnuts on County Road 24, said he understands costs go up and appreciates the work the agriculture department does.
But the inspection fees would be passed on to the growers — not the buyers.
Merrill added, to remain competitive — the fees should be the same as surrounding counties.
These plant or commodity inspections are made to certify that field crops grown for seed, such as sunflowers, and nuts in the processing plants are free from pests or diseases that could be transported to foreign countries or other states, county officials said.
"We need an increase," Supervisor Steve Soeth said, "but a $30 jump is a big jump. I'd do half of that."
Soeth suggested raising the fee by $15 to $55, which gained the support of his colleagues.
Supervisor Dwight Foltz said he believed the field inspection fee should be $4 rather than $4.25 per acre after asking how long it took to inspect a field.
Rey Lopez, with the Glenn County Agriculture Department, said 220 fields were inspected last year and ranged from 2 to 300 acres. That was 400 hours in 2012.
The average field is 30 to 40 acres, Lopez said, and takes about an hour or two do.