Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

03/19/2010 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 282(L&C) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
          HB 383-TRANSFER CERTAIN DNR DUTIES TO DCCED                                                                       
3:51:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 383, "An Act  relating to the powers and duties of                                                               
the  Department  of  Natural  Resources,  including  transferring                                                               
certain  powers  and  duties  to   the  Department  of  Commerce,                                                               
Community, and Economic Development."                                                                                           
3:51:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JAY  RAMRAS,  Alaska State  Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  stated he  is passionate  about agriculture  and owns  a                                                               
commercial  greenhouse.   He  related  that  he grew  over  5,000                                                               
pounds of  tomatoes and employs  Future Farmers of  America (FFA)                                                               
youth in his greenhouse operation.   Many legislators have viewed                                                               
his  hydroponic growing  operation.   He  has  been working  with                                                               
scientists and professors to teach  children to grow tomatoes and                                                               
lettuce.    He  has  toured   the  Matanuska-Susitna  Valley  and                                                               
supports  Made  in  Alaska  and  Alaska  Grown  groups.    He  is                                                               
cognizant  of the  Division of  Agriculture within  the DNR.   He                                                               
paraphrased  from  his  sponsor statement  [original  punctuation                                                               
     The Department of Natural Resources  is one of Alaska's                                                                    
     largest departments.  It oversees the  most significant                                                                    
     and lucrative resource base in  the state: oil and gas.                                                                    
     The  Division  of  Oil  &  Gas  budget,  combined  with                                                                    
     budgets  for  gas  pipeline development  and  Petroleum                                                                    
     Systems Integrity,  exceeds $18  million. DNR  has many                                                                    
     other jurisdictions,  from mining  and timber  to parks                                                                    
     and  recreation, but  clearly oil  and gas  development                                                                    
     and  land management  are DNR's  most important  focus.                                                                    
     Most Alaskans  would agree  that oversight  of Alaska's                                                                    
     most  lucrative resource,  the lifeblood  of the  state                                                                    
     budget, is an appropriate focus for the department.                                                                        
     The  Division of  Agriculture  is  currently under  the                                                                    
     auspices of DNR. Unfortunately,  with the immensity and                                                                    
     power  of  DNR's  focus  on  oil and  gas,  it  may  be                                                                    
     unwittingly overlooking the Division of Agriculture.                                                                       
     For  many years  farmers  and ranchers  in Alaska  have                                                                    
     expressed concern  that the  Division of  Agriculture -                                                                    
     as a  relatively small division  - simply does  not get                                                                    
     the attention  it needs.  Agriculture is  a significant                                                                    
     industry in  Alaska, but there  is room  for expansion.                                                                    
     Farms in Alaska  cover more than 900,000  acres in five                                                                    
     boroughs and  in 2008 that  acreage had  an approximate                                                                    
     value  of  $22,700,000.  Yet   only  three  percent  of                                                                    
     Alaska's  food is  grown in  our  state. Many  Alaskans                                                                    
     believe that  the Division of Agriculture  could better                                                                    
     meet its mission "to  encourage and promote development                                                                    
     of  an  agriculture  industry  in  the  State"  if  the                                                                    
     division found  a home in  a smaller,  less diversified                                                                    
     agency with a mission more compatible with its own.                                                                        
     The  Department  of   Commerce,  Community  &  Economic                                                                    
     Development  most fits  the bill.  Not only  does DCCED                                                                    
     share a  similar mission,  "promoting a  strong economy                                                                    
     and   healthy  communities,"   it  also   has  valuable                                                                    
     expertise  in  marketing   Alaska  products,  promoting                                                                    
     economic  and  industrial   development,  and  managing                                                                    
     revolving loan  funds. This expertise will  be an asset                                                                    
     to the Division  of Agriculture as it  works to enhance                                                                    
     and promote  an agriculture industry in  Alaska. HB 383                                                                    
     proposes  to move  the Division  of Agriculture  to the                                                                    
     DCCED  where  it will  get  the  support and  attention                                                                    
     needed to fulfill its mission.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS offered that the Division of Agriculture                                                                  
is best served in the DCCED.  He related that 40 years ago, from                                                                
1962  to 1968  Sig  Restad was  the director.    The Division  of                                                               
Agriculture as the  poor stepchild of DNR is not  new.  The DNR's                                                               
focus is on mining and land and not on agriculture.                                                                             
3:55:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  advocated for a smaller,  less diversified                                                               
agency.  He  explained that  13  years  ago Representative  James                                                               
created  the  Division  of  Agriculture.    This  bill  does  not                                                               
dismantle the division or close any  offices or jobs, nor does it                                                               
change the Agricultural Revolving  Loan Fund (ARLF) which remains                                                               
the same,  he stated.   The mission is also  the same.   The bill                                                               
proposes to move  the Division of Agriculture to  the DCCED where                                                               
it  will get  the support  and  attention needed  to fulfill  its                                                               
4:00:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH referred  to  page 3,  line  22 to  proposed                                                               
section 5,  and related that elk  is singled out.   He noted that                                                               
musk ox and other species are also raised in Alaska.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said he was not sure.                                                                                     
MARGARET DOWLING, Staff, Representative  Jay Ramras, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  explained   that  no  changes  were   made  to  the                                                               
function.  She  said that it lifted out DNR  and replaced it with                                                               
DCCED in each place in this  chapter.  She offered that there are                                                               
no substantive changes.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked  whether there is any  intent to change                                                               
the statutes.                                                                                                                   
MS. DOWLING answered no.                                                                                                        
4:03:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  offered  her  belief that  agriculture                                                               
needs  more  attention in  the  state.    She asked  whether  the                                                               
regulation of cheese would be done by this division.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS offered  that Department  of Environmental                                                               
Conservation  (DEC)  regulates different  types  of  things.   He                                                               
hoped that  this bill would  lead to meaningful discussions.   He                                                               
would like  to see an  agriculture caucus to discuss  these types                                                               
of issues.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON understood  an ARLF program  exists and                                                               
asked if that component would also be transferred.                                                                              
MS.  DOWLING agreed.   She  pointed out  that there  are not  any                                                               
changes to the structure of the  ARLF.  The ARLF is lifted intact                                                               
and would be moved to a different department.                                                                                   
4:04:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DOWLING, in response to  Representative T. Wilson, reiterated                                                               
that  the program  would not  be  changed.   She elaborated  that                                                               
other  programs the  Division of  Agriculture manages,  including                                                               
Plant Materials Center, the Alaska  Grown and other components of                                                               
the Division of Agriculture would be transferred to DCCED.                                                                      
4:05:56 PM                                                                                                                    
BERNIE  KARL,  President, Farm  Bureau;  Chena  Fresh, Chena  Hot                                                               
Springs, related  that the  Division of  Agriculture has  been an                                                               
"ugly  stepchild."    He  said he  is  personally  involved  with                                                               
agriculture.  He applauded the  work the director of the Division                                                               
of Agriculture has  done.  Alaska only "grows two  percent of the                                                               
food we eat."  He stressed  the importance of growing food.  Last                                                               
year, America  imported 40  percent of our  food.   Alaska should                                                               
"lead  this  parade" in  food  security  for ourselves.    Alaska                                                               
should be the breadbasket and has the  ability to do so.  He does                                                               
not view agriculture as moving forward  in the state.  He related                                                               
that oil and  gas are important and    He thinks  the Division of                                                               
Agriculture will be a shining star in  DCCED.  He did not see any                                                               
downside risk.                                                                                                                  
4:09:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KARL reiterated  that Alaska only grows "two  percent of what                                                               
we eat."  Alaska  has land and a good growing  season.  Chena Hot                                                               
Springs has two greenhouses based  on knowledge acquired from the                                                               
University of Alaska Fairbanks.   He applauded the professors and                                                               
said  they are  "great".   He related  that Fairbanks  is growing                                                               
food  at minus  60 degrees.   He  said, "The  brightest and  best                                                               
times are ahead for Alaska.  But  it is not as business as usual.                                                               
We need to reinvent ourselves.   We need to think to the future."                                                               
He  added an  aside that  the state  needs to  build the  "bullet                                                               
4:10:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON offered his congratulations on his upcoming award.                                                                  
4:10:59 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  WARNER, State  Director, Future  Farmers of  America (FFA),                                                               
stated  Alaska has  the ability  to  feed the  state and  provide                                                               
materials to  process milk  and feed our  livestock.   He offered                                                               
his belief that the FFA is the  future of Alaska.  Alaska has 365                                                               
million  acres,  and  sufficient  revenues,  but  does  not  have                                                               
adequate  programs  to teach  young  people  how to  develop  the                                                               
industries.     He  stated  that   Alaska  needs   a  progressive                                                               
agricultural  industry  throughout Alaska.    Many  areas of  the                                                               
state including Ruby, Nome, Kotzebue,  and many rural communities                                                               
should  grow   their  own  food.     He  commented  on   his  own                                                               
opportunities in the Interior.   He appreciates what the Division                                                               
of Agriculture  has done, but  believes it  needs to be  taken to                                                               
the next  step and  make agriculture  a viable  economic resource                                                               
for Alaska.   He stated  that agriculture  is one of  the largest                                                               
employers  nationwide  but  one  of  the  smallest  employers  in                                                               
Alaska.   He  explained that  Alaska has  a vulnerable  three-day                                                               
food supply  on our  shelves and  Alaska needs  to take  steps to                                                               
grow its own food.  He offered his support for HB 383.                                                                          
4:15:50 PM                                                                                                                    
TYSON  FICK, Legislative  Liaison,  Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of   Commerce,  Community,  &   Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED),  stated  that  this  bill would  lift  the  Division  of                                                               
Agriculture  as a  unit,  under  the direction  of  DCCED, but  a                                                               
number  of technical  issues would  need  to be  addressed.   The                                                               
DCCED would like time to work  through those issues.  The mission                                                               
of DNR  is to  develop, conserve,  and enhance  natural resources                                                               
for  present and  future Alaskans.    The DCCED's  mission is  to                                                               
promote a  healthy economy  and strong communities.   He  was not                                                               
certain  how the  proposed change  would affect  the Division  of                                                               
Agriculture,  whose   mission  is  to  promote   and  develop  an                                                               
agriculture  industry in  the  state.   The  DCCED  and DNR  work                                                               
together on issues  such as coastal zone  management, and coastal                                                               
impact  assistance.   The relationship  has benefited  from clear                                                               
roles and  responsibilities.  He  stated that the  DCCED welcomes                                                               
greater  inter-departmental coordination.   The  DCCED Office  of                                                               
Economic   Development   has   industry  advocates   in   mining,                                                               
fisheries,  tourism, timber,  and the  recently revitalized  film                                                               
office.   The  DCCED observes  efforts of  the Alaska  Grown farm                                                               
products marketing  program.   The DCCED  believes much  could be                                                               
achieved without the  wholesale move of the division.   The DCCED                                                               
has extensive experience in managing  loan funds, administered by                                                               
the  Division  of  Investments.   The  DCCED  has  experience  in                                                               
federal  and  state  grant  programs.   He  suggested  the  Plant                                                               
Materials Research Center  and the Mt. McKinley  Meat and Sausage                                                               
(MMM&S) may be odd fits for  DCCED.  The Plant Materials Research                                                               
Center  grows native  grass  seed for  re-vegetation  and runs  a                                                               
full-scale  research  farm.   In  many  states  this would  be  a                                                               
function of  the university  system.  The  Mt. McKinley  Meat and                                                               
Sausage  (MMM&S)   is  managed  by   DNR  but  is   processed  by                                                               
correctional facilities.   He looked forward to  working with the                                                               
DNR on the Division of Agriculture issues.                                                                                      
4:19:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES asked  if the department has  a position on                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
MR. FICK  related that the issue  is a policy discussion  and the                                                               
DCCED has no position on the bill.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES referred to  the fiscal notes, which appear                                                               
to take budget of one and move to the other.                                                                                    
MR. FICK agreed the budget was simply transferred to DCCED.                                                                     
4:20:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES assumed  there  would  be some  additional                                                               
one-time costs for stationary and other costs.                                                                                  
MR. FICK stated that is "not fleshed out."                                                                                      
4:21:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FICK,  in response  to  Representative  T. Wilson,  restated                                                               
DNR's  mission,  which  is  to  develop,  conserve,  and  enhance                                                               
natural resources for  present and future Alaskans.   The DCCED's                                                               
mission is to promote a healthy economy and strong communities.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  T.  WILSON  said  she  thought  the  Division  of                                                               
Agriculture  would better  fit the  DCCED's mission.   She  asked                                                               
whether he  thought the Division  of Agriculture  received enough                                                               
MR. FICK  said he could not  offer an opinion since  he works for                                                               
4:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON  said, "I guess I'm going to  go kind of                                                               
where Bernie  was going.   If it  doesn't work, you  could always                                                               
give it back, is that not true?"                                                                                                
MR. FICK related that it is the legislature's decision.                                                                         
4:22:59 PM                                                                                                                    
PETER  FELLMAN  stated  that  while  he  is  currently  staff  to                                                               
Representative John Harris,  he is testifying today  as a farmer.                                                               
He came  to Alaska  to farm,  but agriculture  was at  its lowest                                                               
point in 1987.  He recalled  the failures that were listed in the                                                               
paper.  He  referred to a study on  megaprojects that highlighted                                                               
$190 million  was spent on  agriculture in  Alaska.  Much  of the                                                               
money was used  to clear land, put in roads  and power lines, and                                                               
ready it  for farming,  he stated.   He  offered his  belief that                                                               
very little money was spent and  not much loss has been sustained                                                               
since  the land  is still  there and  some of  it is  still being                                                               
farmed.    He  thought  the  problem was  that  the  Division  of                                                               
Agriculture   was  micromanaged.     The   DNR  or   Division  of                                                               
Agriculture mandated how big farmers  needed to build their barns                                                               
and  how many  cows  they  should milk  instead  of allowing  the                                                               
farmers  to make  prudent  decisions about  their  farms.   Thus,                                                               
bottlenecks occurred.   In 1977, Alaska was  producing more meat,                                                               
chicken,  meat, wool,  eggs, and  hay crops  than it  does today.                                                               
According to  the USDA statistics  Alaska out-produced  then what                                                               
it is currently produces today.                                                                                                 
MR. FELLMAN said, "We  threw this money at it.   We had land open                                                               
up and we had willing farmers.   The fact is that you can farm in                                                               
Alaska."   He  restated that  farming is  possible in  Alaska and                                                               
people will buy their products.                                                                                                 
4:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FELLMAN offered  his belief that the problem  "boils down" to                                                               
marketing,  regulations, and  the  way government  has chosen  to                                                               
invest in agriculture.   With respect to  marketing, farmers will                                                               
farm and  people have to  eat.  The  hang-up is the  marketing in                                                               
the   middle.     He   thought  money   could   be  invested   in                                                               
infrastructure, such as  a flash freezing plant  so farmers could                                                               
rent the  facility.   The state  puts money  into roads  and fish                                                               
hatcheries,  but agriculture  is also  good for  the people.   He                                                               
offered  that  the farmers  do  not  need regulations  that  will                                                               
inhibit  people from  producing.   Agriculture needs  departments                                                               
that  work  together  to  develop  regulations  specifically  for                                                               
Alaska.   Alaska does not  export food so  the DNR, DEC,  and the                                                               
Division of Agriculture  should work with the  farmers to enhance                                                               
farming to streamline the process.                                                                                              
4:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FELLMAN said,  "If it was me,  and I was sitting  on the top,                                                               
I'd  be selling  Alaska  as  the last  stronghold  of the  family                                                               
farm."  In some ways, Alaska is  50 to 100 years behind the Lower                                                               
48 but Alaska  has a closed market, virgin soil,  clean land, and                                                               
a  clean environment.    He  offered that  Alaska  does not  need                                                               
corporate farming.   He said, "We  need to have family  farms and                                                               
you start  those by  allowing the  departments to  work together.                                                               
He  was unsure  whether  the Division  of  Agriculture should  be                                                               
moved to DCCED.  He said, "I do  not know all the answers to that                                                               
one.   I do know  I've been in this  since 1987, and  nothing has                                                               
changed.   We still have the  same problems today that  we had in                                                               
1987.   Maybe  we can  kick  this thing  a little  bit, spur  the                                                               
horse, and  get it  moving again."   He was  not sure  moving the                                                               
division was necessary but he thought it was worth discussing.                                                                  
4:29:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   T.  WILSON   asked   whether  the   agricultural                                                               
community is getting what it needs in DNR to be more viable.                                                                    
MR. FELLMAN expressed  concern.  He recalled  some questions that                                                               
were raised during the administration's  transition, such as "Why                                                               
shouldn't we just let agriculture  die?"  He related that farmers                                                               
do not ask for handouts.   He stated that if someone is regulated                                                               
to the point that it is  necessary to invest $350,000 for a small                                                               
milk  facility,  the  repayment   schedule  is  several  thousand                                                               
dollars per month.  He said, "You  can't milk 20 cows or 20 goats                                                               
to reach that  kind of payback."  Thus,  overregulation means the                                                               
farmer must have more land or  equipment, which has "broke" a lot                                                               
of farms.  He described his  own farming experience, in which his                                                               
240 acres of  land was forested.  The state  required the land be                                                               
cleared in five years.  He had  to borrow funds to clear the land                                                               
to meet the  regulations.  He then had to  milk more cows, obtain                                                               
hired  help, and  buy  bigger equipment,  which  simply became  a                                                               
cycle.  He blamed regulations.   He suggested allowing farming to                                                               
start small  and build.   Thus,  the market  would be  secure and                                                               
farmers could make their payments.                                                                                              
4:33:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON  asked whether he saw any  harm with the                                                               
MR. FELLMAN said, "Well, I guess  we could always move it back if                                                               
it doesn't work."                                                                                                               
4:33:28 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANCI   HEGELMEISER,   Director,    Division   of   Agriculture,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources  (DNR), thanked the  sponsor for                                                               
introducing the bill, which fosters  an open discussion about the                                                               
agriculture  industry in  Alaska.   She related  that agriculture                                                               
has been  her family's life,  that her husband's family  has been                                                               
actively  involved   with  agriculture   since  1935,   when  the                                                               
colonists came  to Palmer.   She would  like to see  her children                                                               
appreciate  the  opportunities  that  agriculture  can  bring  to                                                               
Alaska.  She acknowledged that there  may be benefits to keep the                                                               
division as  it is, but these  are policy calls.   The goals have                                                               
been  outlined in  the division's  ten  year plan.   The  sponsor                                                               
asked for  five issues the  agriculture community  could benefit.                                                               
The  division   has  a  long   term  plan  called,   "Building  a                                                               
Sustainable Agriculture  Industry."  This plan  was compiled last                                                               
year.   The  top areas  addressed in  the plan  include increased                                                               
marketing, including  educating consumers on the  health benefits                                                               
of locally grown food.                                                                                                          
MS. HEGELMEISER suggested that the  Division of Agriculture lacks                                                               
infrastructure   development,   needs  outreach   education   and                                                               
recruiting.  The division continues  to partner with agricultural                                                               
youth  education.   Our  children are  at  least two  generations                                                               
removed from  the farm.   The average  age of Alaskan  farmers is                                                               
57.  She said, "It is  imperative that our young people know that                                                               
their food  does not  come from  the grocery  store and  in saran                                                               
wrap  and may  gain  the  expertise needed  to  produce food  for                                                               
future  generations."     Continued  support  was   mentioned  by                                                               
industry for  the plant materials  center, which is  the research                                                               
and  development  arm of  the  Division  of Agriculture  and  the                                                               
primary purpose is the production  of high quality seed.  Another                                                               
area of interest  that was reiterated within the  industry is the                                                               
continued support  of the ARLF.   This is a vital  way to provide                                                               
funds for  land development, provides funds  for operating loans,                                                               
and is an important piece of the agriculture community.                                                                         
4:37:02 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  HUBERT,  Owner,  Palmer  Produce, stated  that  he  is  100                                                               
percent in  support of the legislation.   He related that  he has                                                               
been  involved in  the since  1950s  in farming  operations.   He                                                               
markets  wholesale.   He heard  criticisms of  regulations, which                                                               
are primarily federal regulations.   He said it is important that                                                               
inspections be  done in  the state and  farmers cannot  market to                                                               
the entities  without providing wholesome  food.  He  stated that                                                               
he  markets  for small  growers  that  produce rhubarb,  lettuce,                                                               
cabbage,  and  potatoes.   He  services  the Railbelt  area  from                                                               
Fairbanks  to Anchorage.    He ships  products  and lamented  the                                                               
shipping costs  to rural Alaska, such  as to St. Marys.   He used                                                               
the ARLF for loans and repaid  the loans which were used to build                                                               
several warehouses and put in a  vacuum cooling system.  He said,                                                               
"We  can take  150 cases  of head  lettuce and  chill it  from 80                                                               
degrees, and  15 minutes  later the  temperature is  34 degrees."                                                               
He stated that  keeping in tune with the market  is critical.  He                                                               
follows the  market by  tracking the  USDA.   He stated  that the                                                               
Division of Agriculture  has been "a second cousin."   He related                                                               
his involvement.   He said  he had a  fellow say that  you cannot                                                               
make  long-range plans  with short-range  economic  studies.   He                                                               
related that if the Division  of Agriculture is transferred, that                                                               
all agriculture classified  lands also be transferred.   He asked                                                               
to have the agriculture lands preserved for the future.                                                                         
4:42:34 PM                                                                                                                    
AL  POINDEXTER, Owner,  Anchor Point  Greenhouse, stated  that he                                                               
produces two  potting soils called  Fishy Peat and  Alaska Earth.                                                               
He grows bedding  plants and produce.  He has  been a teacher for                                                               
20 years and  worked with the FFA.   He said he was  born in 1948                                                               
in Seward.   He stated  he has  been involved in  agriculture his                                                               
whole life.   He thought that the Division  of Agriculture should                                                               
be  a department.   He  suggested that  the agriculture  statutes                                                               
need  work.   He  also  suggested  that  the  ARLF and  Board  of                                                               
Agriculture and  Conservation should  be addressed.   The board's                                                               
only authority is to accept or  deny loan applications and it has                                                               
no  other  authority.    Soil  conservation  should  be  part  of                                                               
agriculture and should  also be moved.  He  encouraged members to                                                               
provide  for education.    He said  the  Division of  Agriculture                                                               
promotes FFA and  4-H, but monetarily does not  have any support.                                                               
The  department  does not  promote  education.   He  offered  his                                                               
belief  that education  is important  to obtain  jobs and  become                                                               
4:46:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  POINDEXTER  related  that   some  FFA  members  have  become                                                               
landscapers,  environmental  engineers,  or grow  potatoes.    He                                                               
thought the FFA  could help provide jobs for others.   He said he                                                               
believes  there are  lots  of opportunities.    He suggested  the                                                               
statute should  address land scholarships  that could  be offered                                                               
to those  students graduating from  programs, who could  obtain a                                                               
ten-acre parcel  to start a  small family  farm.  He  recalled in                                                               
the  late 1950s  there was  a chicken  farm operating  in Seward.                                                               
The company  provided fresh  eggs to the  Railbelt.   He recalled                                                               
that Aniak had a farm.   He offered his belief that what happened                                                               
was oil and  gas industry needed skilled workers  and the farmers                                                               
provided the  necessary skills.   He stated  that since  then the                                                               
state has  not educated  or promoted  future generations  to move                                                               
forward.  He supported HB 383.                                                                                                  
4:49:51 PM                                                                                                                    
BRICE  WRIGLEY, President,  Alaska Farm  Bureau, Delta  Junction,                                                               
stated that the  Division of Agriculture is in the  shadow of oil                                                               
and gas.   He stated that  the agriculture community has  had the                                                               
sense that  the DNR has  not had  time to adequately  address the                                                               
development of agriculture  since it is preoccupied  with oil and                                                               
gas.   Governor Hammond's job  opportunities laid out a  ten year                                                               
plan.  In 1982, Delta lost the crop  due to an early snow.  Thus,                                                               
the government  "threw the  baby out  with the  bath water."   In                                                               
reality,  any  place where  food  is  grown has  natural  weather                                                               
challenges.   Alaska  has not  developed an  agriculture culture.                                                               
Everywhere  else, agriculture  was  the  basis for  civilization.                                                               
The  support  for development  of  agriculture  died out  in  the                                                               
1980s.   He supports  HB 383  since Alaska  needs to  establish a                                                               
priority  to feed  our citizens.   The  state needs  to feed  its                                                               
citizens.  A  disruption in the transportation  system can create                                                               
problems.  He  attended a conference and people  asked whether it                                                               
would be  better to move  the Division  of Agriculture.   He said                                                               
that based  on past 30  years, the Division of  Agriculture would                                                               
continue  to  scratch.    He   suggested  that  the  Division  of                                                               
Agriculture remains intact.  He  would like to see inspections of                                                               
meat,  milk,   and  cheese   moved  back   to  the   Division  of                                                               
Agriculture.    He agreed  the  lands  designated as  agriculture                                                               
lands held by  DNR should move with the  Division of Agriculture.                                                               
The  lands  are  not  productive  and  have  not  contributed  to                                                               
economic stability  as state  lands.   Agriculture is  a business                                                               
and DCCED is logical place to "move a business forward."                                                                        
4:55:53 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD GATIS,  Owner, Gatis  Farms, stated that  he has  been in                                                               
operation 10  years.   Last year  his farm  produced 600  tons of                                                               
timothy hay for livestock.  He  cleared the land and since he has                                                               
an income as  a full-time airline captain, he can  afford to be a                                                               
farmer.  He  testified in favor of the change  from DNR to DCCED.                                                               
The "status quo"  is not working.  He offered  his belief that it                                                               
is important that the state  define goals for domestic and export                                                               
production.   One problem  is a  lack of  economy of  scale, with                                                               
little cooperation.   It costs more to be a  farmer in Alaska and                                                               
Alaska has  a disadvantage  due to shipping  costs.   He recalled                                                               
that California's real estate taxes  were based on the production                                                               
value of  the land  versus the  land value.   Grazing  lands were                                                               
taxed at low rates making for  land retention feasible.  The cost                                                               
of land and taxes makes it  difficult to have a sustainable farm.                                                               
He suggested low  interest loans and incentives  for good payment                                                               
history.  He said "the squeaky  wheel got the grease."  He stated                                                               
that when agriculture  is run like a business,  with a reasonable                                                               
return on  investment, "then and  only then will Ag  move forward                                                               
and grow."                                                                                                                      
4:59:25 PM                                                                                                                    
LYNN  GATIS,  Gatis  Farms,  stated  that  her  family  currently                                                               
produces  hay.   She  said,  "As  a  lifelong Alaska,  I've  been                                                               
concerned  that  agriculture in  the  State  of Alaska  has  been                                                               
underutilized."   She would  like the  state to  have a  plan for                                                               
people  and animals  in case  of a  catastrophic emergency.   She                                                               
offered her belief  the Division of Agriculture should  be run in                                                               
a business-like fashion, in which  leadership and planning allows                                                               
Alaskan farmers to know the  direction.  She supports moving from                                                               
DNR to DCCED.   She said, "I believe Representative  Ramras is on                                                               
the right  track to  keeping the budget  and staffing  intact and                                                               
just  moving  it."   She  stated  that  sometimes "change"  is  a                                                               
catalyst for growth.                                                                                                            
5:00:35 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  SHUMAKER stated  that he  is  a Matanuska-Susitna  Valley                                                               
farmer and has worked with the 4-H  and FFA program.  He works on                                                               
300  acres of  hay, has  raised pigs  for 20  years, milks  dairy                                                               
cows, raises chickens,  and does a variety of farming.   He has a                                                               
three-acre  garden and  will participate  in three  local markets                                                               
and booths.   The Division of Agriculture has always  helped.  He                                                               
said,  "I'm  having  trouble understanding  why  everybody  keeps                                                               
giving  the  division  a  black  eye."   The  DCCED  markets  and                                                               
promotes tourism,  which is declining  and promotes seafood.   He                                                               
asked  what  the DCCED  could  do  for  agriculture, which  is  a                                                               
natural resource.  He offered his  belief that it is necessary to                                                               
distinguish between real  estate and agriculture.  He  said he is                                                               
the president of  the Alaska Farmers Union, whose  30 members are                                                               
completely comprised of farmers.   He shared some board comments,                                                               
including the following:  We should chew on this idea.   The bill                                                               
does   not  look   like  a   priority  for   anyone  except   the                                                               
representative  that  promoted it.    Their  gut reaction  is  to                                                               
oppose the bill.  The biggest  question is what the reason is for                                                               
the  change.   His members  believe that  agriculture is  still a                                                               
renewable resource, and should stay  under the DNR.  He disagreed                                                               
that the DNR  focuses only on oil  and gas.  He  related that the                                                               
DNR gave  a presentation on  agriculture lands, the  potential of                                                               
agriculture lands, and offered his  belief that the department is                                                               
in  touch   with  agriculture.     He   viewed  the   problem  as                                                               
underfunding  the  Division  of  Agriculture.    He  related  his                                                               
understanding that  the ARLF  fund was  used to  fund operations,                                                               
including  paying  salaries  instead  of  providing  loans.    He                                                               
maintained that  the legislature  needs to  fund the  Division of                                                               
Agriculture.   He  did not  think  relocating the  division is  a                                                               
"move in the right direction."   He recalled prior testimony that                                                               
the outcome of the Mt. McKinley  Meat & Sausage (MMM&S) and Plant                                                               
Materials Center is  uncertain if the Division  of Agriculture is                                                               
relocated  to the  DCCED.   He  said that  kids  sell their  farm                                                               
animals  after   the  state  fair   and  the  farm   animals  are                                                               
slaughtered in  Palmer.  He said  that the answer is  not to move                                                               
the  Division of  Agriculture  but  to adequately  fund  it.   He                                                               
appreciated the  time and comments  made today.  He  related that                                                               
farmers  are working  to build  an industry  and he  thought some                                                               
information  was a  little misleading.   He  said, "There  may be                                                               
900,000  acres  in  agriculture,  but I  can  guarantee  you  the                                                               
biggest majority  of that is  in reindeer  herding.  To  you that                                                               
may be farming, but  most of us down here don't  have a farm that                                                               
big."  He thanked the committee.                                                                                                
5:06:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON,  after first  determining  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 383.                                                                                     
[HB 383 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB282 POM Marjorie Richards 3-13-10.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter AAFP 3-15-10.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter Abby Laing.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter Tom Laing.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter Wayne Aderhold 3-1-10.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB383 version A.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 383
HB383-Fiscal Note DNR-AG-03-15-10.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 383
HB383 Fiscal Note-CED-COM-03-15-10.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 383
Mar 19 Packet Info.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
CSHB282 ver C.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter Tanana Valley Clinic.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter Tanana Clinic Letter-RX Attachment.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB282 Letter (2) Wayne Aderhold.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 282
HB383 Sponsor Statement ver A.pdf HL&C 3/19/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 383