Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/01/2002 09:49 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 353(RES)                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to the labeling of animal and poultry feeds                                                               
     and to the agriculture program coordinator; and providing for                                                              
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
This was  the second  hearing for  this bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Senator  Ward noted  Senator Olson's  intent to  change the  funding                                                            
source for this legislation  from general funds to receipt supported                                                            
services funds.                                                                                                                 
Senator Olson informed  he has spoken to industry representatives to                                                            
get their input on this  bill, as the legislation would impact them.                                                            
KEN  SHERWOOD,   Alaska  Mill  and   Feed  Company,  testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from  off-net  site that  he  does not  oppose  this                                                            
legislation because  the company complies with the  labeling laws of                                                            
the  State   of  Washington.   He  expressed   he  would  like   the                                                            
requirements  to  be  identical  to  federal   regulations.  He  was                                                            
concerned that the language in the bill is "vague".                                                                             
DENNIS GREEN,  Owner, Green  and Son, testified  via teleconference                                                             
from an off-net  site in Delta Junction about the  activities of the                                                            
company. He  stated he would prefer  the legislation not  be enacted                                                            
at this  time, as it would  place a "strain"  on those affected.  He                                                            
understood  a  statute  would   be necessary   at  some  point,  but                                                            
requested a delay.                                                                                                              
ROBERT   THOM,  Budget   Feed   and   Farm  Store,   testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from an off-net site in Palmer that  the company has                                                            
been producing feed in  Alaska for 25 years. He stressed the need to                                                            
regulate  feed  imported  into  the  State.  He  spoke  of  chemical                                                            
additives used to "boost"  the protein content of feed, which Alaska                                                            
manufacturers  are currently unable to produce but  this legislation                                                            
would allow.                                                                                                                    
Senator  Olson  asked for  clarification  of  whether  the  previous                                                            
witness favored or opposed the legislation.                                                                                     
Mr. Thom indicated he supports the legislation.                                                                                 
HERB SIMON  testified  via teleconference  from an  off-net site  in                                                            
Nelchina  that he has  been manufacturing  and selling  feed  for 25                                                            
years. He opposed  the bill because it requires "manpower  increases                                                            
in   the  overall   State   structure",   which   he   asserted   is                                                            
"diametrically  opposed" to an appropriate  legislative mandate.  He                                                            
was unfamiliar  with the organic farming  and weed control  portions                                                            
of the bill. He asserted  the feed manufacturing industries would be                                                            
unable  to  comply  with the  new  statutes  because  of a  lack  of                                                            
infrastructure  and the time involved  to obtain laboratory  results                                                            
on the  exact protein  content. He  continued that  Alaska has  been                                                            
known  as a  "dumping  ground" for  outdated  feed products  and  he                                                            
surmised  the protein  content  listed on  product  labels would  be                                                            
considerably  less  because  the  protein   level  reduces  quickly,                                                            
especially  if the product  is not properly  stored. He opposed  the                                                            
imposition of mandated standards that are impossible to achieve.                                                                
PETER FELLMAN,  Staff to Representative  John Harris, testified  via                                                            
teleconference  from  Delta  Junction  that although  Alaska  has  a                                                            
"truth  in labeling"  law,  there is  insufficient  manpower in  the                                                            
Division  of  Agriculture  to  enforce   it.  This  legislation,  he                                                            
stressed,  would provide  staff to  implement the  existing law.  He                                                            
informed  of  the  laboratories   available  to  perform   nutrition                                                            
testing.  He remarked if  feed is properly  stored as instructed  on                                                            
the package, the  nutrition level should be maintained.  He spoke to                                                            
the lack  of labeling  requirements  in Alaska that  are present  in                                                            
every other state.  He surmised that if a manufacturer  is producing                                                            
nutritional  feed, there should  be no problem  with complying  with                                                            
these  provisions.  He asserted  that those  feeding  pets and  farm                                                            
animals have a right to  know that the feed purchased is nutritious.                                                            
Senator Leman asked if  the witness agreed with the fiscal note that                                                            
a full  time position  is  necessary to  implement  this statute  or                                                            
whether the  duties could  be shared with  existing staff or  a part                                                            
time staff.                                                                                                                     
Mr. Fellman told  of the three duties this legislation  would create                                                            
and  agreed that  one full-time  position  is unnecessary  for  each                                                            
duty. However,  he noted the combination of the duties  would amount                                                            
to the necessity of a full-time position.                                                                                       
Senator Leman  asked if one person  could be found who is  qualified                                                            
to perform all three duties.                                                                                                    
Mr. Fellman replied this  is possible and emphasized that successful                                                            
performance  of  the duties  would  require  good  organization  and                                                            
attention to  detail. He qualified  some training would be  required                                                            
to educate the  employee about testing feed samples  and to become a                                                            
organic certifier. He informed this training is not difficult.                                                                  
Co-Chair Kelly  referred to Section 5 of the bill  relating to civil                                                            
liability that  increases the amount  of the fines levied.  He asked                                                            
the  purpose   of  changing  this   provision  from  regulatory   to                                                            
Mr. Fellman was  unprepared to respond to this issue  and offered to                                                            
research the matter.                                                                                                            
PHIL KASPARI  Cooperative Extension  Service, University  of Alaska-                                                            
Fairbanks, testified via  teleconference from Delta Junction that he                                                            
is available to address questions relating to noxious weeds.                                                                    
Co-Chair Kelly  suggested Senator Leman and Senator  Olson work with                                                            
Senator Green on revising the fiscal note.                                                                                      
Senator Leman  expressed his  intent to review  the workload  of the                                                            
proposed  position,  as  it did  not  appear  to require  full  time                                                            
Co-Chair  Kelly  indicated  hesitation  to change  the  fiscal  note                                                            
without  input  from the  bill's  sponsor,  Senator Green,  who  was                                                            
absent from this meeting due to illness.                                                                                        
Senator Leman  addressed the amendment  he had offered at  the prior                                                            
hearing  for this  bill, which  was adopted  and  which changed  the                                                            
effective date  of the new position. He pointed out  the adoption of                                                            
regulations  does not conform to this  change and that a  correction                                                            
is necessary.                                                                                                                   
AT EASE 10:12 AM / 10:14 AM                                                                                                     
Amendment  #1:  This  amendment  provides  that Section  7  of  this                                                            
committee substitute,  which stipulates  that this legislation  does                                                            
not apply to meat,  fish or poultry, take effect July  1, 2002. This                                                            
amendment also  inserts a new Section 14 to provide  that Section 8,                                                            
AS 03.60.006.  Agriculture  program  coordinator,  of the  committee                                                            
substitute take effect January 1, 2003.                                                                                         
Senator Leman moved to  rescind action taken at the previous hearing                                                            
to adopt this amendment.                                                                                                        
There was no  objection and the action  adopting this amendment  was                                                            
Senator Leman offered a motion to withdraw this amendment.                                                                      
The amendment was WITHDRAWN without objection.                                                                                  
Amendment  #2: This amendment  inserts a new  Section 14 to  provide                                                            
that  Section 1  and  Section 8  of the  committee  substitute  take                                                            
effect  January 1,  2003. Section  1 relates  to AS 03.05.010(a)(7)                                                             
establishing  requirements  for the  labeling of  animal an  poultry                                                            
feeds, and Section  8 adds a new section to AS 03.60:  AS 03.60.006.                                                            
Agriculture program coordinator.                                                                                                
Senator Leman announced he would NOT OFFER this amendment.                                                                      
Amendment  #3: This amendment  provides that  Sections 1 and  8 take                                                            
effect January 1, 2003.                                                                                                         
Senator Leman moved for adoption.                                                                                               
The amendment was ADOPTED without objection.                                                                                    
Senator Wilken  referenced page 1, line 12 of the  bill and asked if                                                            
farmed shellfish  would qualify  as a raw  or processed aquiculture                                                             
product   under  the  organic   certification   provision  of   this                                                            
Mr. Kaspari  understood that  aquatic products  are not included  in                                                            
the provisions  of this legislation  and deferred  to Mr. Wells  for                                                            
ROBERT  WELLS,  Director, Division  of  Agriculture,  Department  of                                                            
Natural Resources,  testified via  teleconference from off-net  site                                                            
in Palmer  that the  Department  of Environmental  Conservation  has                                                            
responsibility over the  inspection of meat and seafood products. He                                                            
stressed  this legislation  only addresses  land-based, terrestrial                                                             
products, i.e. vegetables, etc.                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Kelly ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                              
AT EASE 10:18 AM / 10:18 AM                                                                                                     

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