Warnick bill to protect crops from pests and disease clears Senate

Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation to prevent the spread of invasive species, pests and disease through compost cleared the state Senate Wednesday with a near-unanimous vote.

Senate Bill 6605 would create a process for the state Department of Agriculture to review applications for moving waste for composting from facilities in quarantine areas to areas not under quarantine. The goal is to review information to ensure that facilities are not at risk of spreading plant pathogens, disease or pests.

“This bill makes sure that the transportation of waste meant for composting doesn’t spread harmful organisms that could endanger our state’s valuable agricultural products,” Warnick said. “We have seen incidents in which pests could have made their way into an area they should not have because of improper siting of a facility. Given that our state’s prominence in agricultural exports, it is critical that we do all we can to ensure the viability of our crops.”

Last year, the value of Washington’s apple crop alone was $3.7 billion, with total economic value to the state being $8 billion. Of the 142 million boxes produced, 30 percent are exported.

“We have state agencies reviewing applications for these types of facilities, however this critical component is not being addressed,” said Warnick. “The process laid out in my bill would ensure compliance with quarantine rules and strike a needed balance.”