Carbon fee initiative’s benefits weighed against rising gas cost in Yakima Valley

Agricultural organizations such as the Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington State Dairy Federation, Washington Cattlemen’s Association and the Washington Tree Fruit Association have voiced opposition to [Initiative 1631].

Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington Tree Fruit Association said [I-1631’s] increase of gas prices would negatively impact farmers and agricultural workers, making it more expensive to get to and from work.

Higher gas prices would be burdensome on low-income farmworkers who may live farther away from work and use more gas for their commutes than those who live near their jobs, DeVaney said.

“People are going to be paying more out of pocket to do what they need to do to live their lives,” DeVaney said. “They know they’re going to be paying more for energy and goods that have to be moved or trucked to them, but they don’t know what the benefits will be.”

While fuels used for agricultural production would be exempt from the fee, gas used to transport products would not, meaning it would cost farmers more to move their products over the Cascades to ports in Seattle or Tacoma.

Since about of third of apples and cherries produced in the county are exported, that’s a problem, DeVaney said. To compete with other states, he said, farmers will be forced to absorb the higher fuel prices.

“They can’t pass on all additional production costs, so it will come out of growers’ and their workers’ pockets, not the consumers’,” DeVaney said.

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