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Both Senate Operating and House Transportation Budgets have been published and below are a few items that impact potato production in Washington State. All need approval by both chambers and the Governor.

Senate Operating Budget:

Department of Commerce
• $1,000,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2024 and $1,000,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2025 are provided solely for the department to contract with the National Academy of Sciences or other similar independent research organization to conduct an analysis of 16 new electricity generation, transmission, ancillary services, efficiency and storage sufficient to offset those presently provided by the lower Snake River dams, as well as identifying any impacts to grid reliability, consumer pricing, and carbon pollution resulting from proposed dam removal. The analysis should identify a detailed plan for a replacement portfolio that maintains the reliability and adequacy of the electric power system, is consistent with the state's statutory and regulatory requirements for clean electricity generation and is supplementary to the resources that will be required to replace fossil fuels in the transportation, industry, and buildings sectors. The assessment will include quantitative analysis based on available data as well as qualitative input gathered from tribal and other governments, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, utilities, and other key stakeholders.

Department of Ecology
• $250,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2024 and $250,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2025 are provided solely for the department, in consultation with other agencies as necessary, to conduct an analysis of how to continue water use for irrigation during draw-down related to potential lower Snake River dam removal and thereafter from a restored river.
• $32,800,000 of the appropriation in this section is provided solely for planning, designing, engineering, development, coordination, and construction of the Odessa groundwater replacement project, sufficient to irrigate the acres located within the Odessa Subarea Special Study and facilities modifications necessary to accommodate capacity demands resulting from the individual public delivery systems within the Odessa groundwater replacement program.
• $500,000 for the Department of Ecology to conduct an analysis of how to continue water use for irrigation during draw-down related to potential lower Snake River dam removal.
• $500,000 for the Department of Ecology to contract with a third-party consultant to gather stakeholder input and make recommendations on the design and implementation of a producer responsibility program for consumer packaging, including paper, plastic, metal, glass, and paper products. The report would be due to the legislature by December 1, 2023.

Climate Commitment Act Account
• $3 million to support the outreach, identification, and implementation of salmon riparian habitat restoration projects.
• $2 million to develop and implement an educational communication plan to the general public and landowners regarding the importance of riparian buffers and actions they can take to protect and enhance critical areas.

Conservation Commission
• $40,000,000 of the natural climate solutions account—state appropriation is provided solely for the commission to provide grants for projects to restore riparian areas, prioritizing areas that will directly benefit salmon habitat and recovery.
• Reappropriation of $3 million for the Voluntary Stewardship Program.
• $15 million 2023-25 VSP Project Funding under the State Conservation Commission.
• $1 million for Skagit County Voluntary Stewardship.

• Funding to implement SB 5277, extending the expiration date of B&O tax exemptions for dairy, fruit, vegetable, and seafood processors from July 1, 2025, to July 1, 2035.

WSDA Budget
• Local Food System Assistance/Grants - Ongoing funding is provided to support operations across the emergency food system, such as food processing.
• Japanese Beetle Eradication - Japanese beetles have been detected in Southeastern Washington. Ongoing funding is provided to continue trapping and eradications efforts.
• Food and Ag Branding and Promotion - Ongoing funding is provided for an assessment of best practices in food and agricultural branding and promotion program design, program guidelines and stakeholder engagement, and staff to implement a related program.
• Food Assistance Program - Funding is provided for Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Food Assistance programs to support staff, food purchases, cold storage, distribution facilities and equipment at food banks and food pantries.
• WA Soil Health Initiative - Funding is provided for a software program for agricultural producers to track soil health improvements.
• Pesticides and Env Quality Research - Funding is provided for data analysis and research on pesticides and nutrients in groundwater.
• Farmers to Families Food Box - Funding is provided to continue the state alternative to the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, which directs emergency food resources to communities.
• Tri-Cities Food Bank - Funding is provided for a grant to Tri-Cities Food Bank to assist with food storage needs.

House Operating, Transportation and Capital:

• $4.2M MVA state matching funds are provided to construct five bridges in Grant and Adams Counties as part of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program.
• $5.0M Motor Vehicle Account (MVA) is provided for an analysis of highway, road, and freight rail transportation needs and options to accommodate the movement of freight and goods that move by barge through the lower Snake River dams.



Wednesday, 29 March 2023