The Conference Call meeting was called to order at 8:00 am by President, James Prchal for the purpose of clarifying segments of the proposed nursery fee bill. Director Ron De Yong, Cort Jensen, Donna Rise, Cam Lay, and Libbi Lovshin were in attendance from the Department of Agriculture. MNLA Board: James Prchal, Shane Clouse, Nathan Heinitz, Ryan Rubie, Jennifer Weiss, Jyl Story.
The Department Attorney, Cort Jensen, opened the discussion by giving some past legislative history beginning in 2009 that included the farm to market and out of state nurseries in the fee schedule. The inclusion of out of state nurseries was not popular and the next session that was reversed (2011). Inspection service fees were added the next session (2013). Inspection fees did not generate the income needed to successfully operate the program and has been unpopular with nurseries. They took the next session off (2015) to regroup and build unity with MNLA and AMTOPP and craft legislation that could move the program forward in 2017.
The 2017 bill is crafted so everyone pays something and places everyone on a level playing field. The fee structure for the box stores as proposed would require a license fee for each location of business dependent on the gross annual sales of each location. Inspection fees have been eliminated from this bill. The question was revisited about “what do we get for our money” ? The question was addressed and answered satisfactorily. The 2017 bill has gone to the Governor’s office for review and has been presented to the Economic Affairs Interim Committee. The bill has been assigned # LC 382. A legislative sponsor will be determined to carry the bill after the election. Once the bill has been assigned to the House Ag Committee and a hearing date set, it will receive a House Bill number (HB). Director de Yong expressed his appreciation for the meeting. He stated it appears we have a consensus and everyone is comfortable with the legislation. There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 am.