Hearings scheduled on special research assessment
Public comments will be taken on a proposed special assessment to fund tree fruit research at WSU.
The special assessment would provide operating funds for WSU's research orchards as well as fund new research and technology transfer positions.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture will conduct two public hearings to take comments on a proposed special research assessment that would raise money for Washington State University.
The first will be held on July 27 at the W.L. Hansen Building, 105 S. 18th Street, Yakima, starting at 1:00 p.m. The second will be held on July 28 at the Washington Apple Commission building, 2900 Euclid Avenue, Wenatchee, starting at 6 p.m.
The university has launched a major fundraising campaign to help strengthen priority programs and hopes to raise $42 million specifically for tree fruit research.
The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission is proposing to levy a special assessment equal to the current research assessment that growers pay, which would generate $32 million over the next eight years. The current assessment rates are $4 a ton for cherries and $1 a ton for other fruits.
Before holding a referendum, the commission had to survey growers to determine what the impact of the special assessment would be on small businesses. Commission Manager Dr. Jim McFerson said the survey showed that small businesses would not be unduly affected. Public hearings on the proposal are set for July 27 in Yakima and July 28 in Wenatchee. The referendum will be scheduled later, but is expected to take place in August.
The $32 million to be raised through the assessments would go to three endowment funds:
• A $12-million endowment would fund six permanent research positions in the areas of tree fruit physiology, pomology, soil health and productivity, crop protection, molecular biology, and engineering and automation.
• A $12-million endowment would fund five new positions in information and technology transfer.
• An $8 -million endowment would provide about half the operating funds for research orchards at Wenatchee and Prosser.
WSU hopes that allied industries will contribute the remaining $10 million to the tree fruit campaign. Northwest Farm Credit Services has donated $250,000 to the tree fruit campaign, and $250,000 to the university’s wine campaign.
Written testimony on the proposal should be sent to Kathy Schmidt, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, 1719 Springwater Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801 (email firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 4.