Taxpayers Pay for Burning

Chuck Sheketoff

Rgfront20050821As field burning smoke continues to choke and cloud the Willamette Valley (see Welcome to Summer in Oregon), it is becoming increasingly clear that taxpayers are being stiffed by farmers who use limits on field burning to escape income taxes and pass their costs on to the rest of us.

On August 19th Diane Dietz of the Eugene Register-Guard wrote an article about field burning complaints.

The following Sunday, the paper ran an investigative exposé by Dietz titled Who's getting burned?. It was accompanied by sorter articles called Field burning makes sense to farmers and Battle looms in next Legislature over pollution tax credits.

Next, the Register-Guard wrote an editorial titled Revisit tax credits.

And, not surprisingly, Katy Coba, the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, published a response in defense of the agriculture industry, which the newspaper titled Field-burning tax credit still useful.

This series should be required reading. Especially when you consider that Oregon agriculture has been reaping records profits the past two years.

  • Gordie (unverified)

    Are the agricultural folks earning record profits the same ones that are burning their fields and benefiting from the tax credit?

  • (Show?)

    The profit data is not broken down by sectors within ag. Also, it is for 2003 and 2004, and those were good years for the grass seed industry. This year there are complaints of voles and other critters eating fields (and thus the ag community's interest in burning or spraying).

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Although I know that ag businesses can be miserly and arch conservative, I have less trouble with the ag industry making record profits than with most other industries. It gives those of us who advocate for sensible land use regulations some ammunition when we can point out that there is big value in the land that developers want to turn into condominiums and McMansions.

    Because of the mild winter and other factors, the vole and mice populations are out of control. Eventually, they will crash as their numbers overwhelm their food supply, but these critters are raising havoc right now. A careful lifting of some field burning restrictions should be considered.

    I live out on a little plot of land outside of Dundee and our house cats, who were cat-food raised city cats until a couple of years ago, are not coming in to eat anymore because they have developed a taste for vole and mouse. A lot of the vinyards are really suffering from mice.

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