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Farm Bureau CEO: If we can’t compete, it’s bad for Washington agriculture

(AP Photo)

A “yes” vote on I-1634 means you get to stop individual cities from enacting taxes on groceries, a measure pushed after Seattle taxed sugary beverages. The measure does not change what’s happening in Seattle, but moving forward would prevent these types of taxes elsewhere.

Of issue is whether such taxes should be up to the decision of local lawmakers, and instead of done on a statewide level.

RELATED: Is I-1634 about groceries, soda taxes, or union jobs?

“From an agriculture perspective, we can’t raise our prices in a local jurisdiction. We don’t get that luxury,” CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau John Stuhlmiller told The Jason Rantz Show. “Our prices are set nationally or internationally, so when a local jurisdiction says we’re going to add this price to doing business, that means we can’t be competitive with out of state or out of country sources for those items.”

“A lot of food is sold within the city of Seattle, and so if we can’t compete, it’s bad for Washington agriculture.”

I-1634 would make it illegal for other cities and counties in the state to pass such taxes. The “yes” campaign has raised approximately $13,000, most of which has come from soda companies. That’s compared to the nearly $8,000 for the “no” campaign.

At the moment, polling seems to indicate a bit of split on I-1634, which Stuhlmiller attributes to the hesitancy with passing initiatives. It’s rare to vote “yes” on an initiative that actually says “no” to doing something.

“Without looking at what it will do, there’s sort of a bias against passing initiatives, and so we’re kind of caught up in that. We want to make it clear that a “yes” vote is a good for business vote.”

Washington Farm Bureau opposes I-1631 as well

Carbon initiative I-1631 is also a major concern for the Washington Farm Bureau, since they argue it would hamper the local industry when competing in global markets.

“We’re an industry heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Transportation costs would go up for everybody. We truck a lot, we use rail, we use air freight,”  Stuhlmiller said.

“All of those prices would go up, so we would be again left holding the bag, because we’re going to be paying more to produce the food that we need and won’t be able to compete in the world market with those who don’t have those taxes.”

So in case you’re keeping score, the Washington Farm Bureau is a strong “no” on I-1631, but a strong “yes” on I-1634.


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