Franklin County commissioners plan to oppose a state initiative that wants to require labels on genetically engineered food.
If passed by voters in November, Initiative 522 could add costs for Franklin County farmers and could potentially mislead the public, said Commissioner Brad Peck.
"The additional burden of deciphering the intent of the initiative, the cost of packaging and repackaging, you have the additional cost of researching products provided to you and ensuring that they're labeled," Peck said after Wednesday's commission meeting. "That's not unique to Franklin County. I think it will apply everywhere."
The requirements of the law would be inconsistent, Commissioner Bob Koch said.
"It's on some items, it doesn't even go clear across the board," he said. "It's real fractured as far as I'm concerned. I don't know how anybody can support it. ... The state of Washington is the only one that's kind of pushing it for some reason."
A Franklin County business like Foster's that pickles products such as asparagus could face additional problems, Koch said.
"They don't grow it, they buy it from numerous different fields," he said. "So how do they know, how could they label it?"
The requirements could apply to livestock, as well as fruits and vegetables, Peck said.
"Potentially, you cross two goats of different strains, is that or is that not genetic engineering?" Peck said.
The county and state Farm Bureau offices, as well as area legislators have announced opposition to the initiative, which will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, Peck said.
Commissioners expect to take a vote on the issue at Wednesday's commission's meeting.
Also Wednesday, commissioners:
-- Approved an almost $73,400 change order for unexpected roof repairs for the county jail expansion and renovation project. The adjustment pushed the price of the county's contract with Lydig Construction of Spokane Valley to more than $15 million.
-- Approved almost $1,300 to reimburse Kent McMullen, chairman of the county's National Resources Advisory Committee, for recent travel expenses to Washington, D.C., to testify Aug. 1 before the House Natural Resources Committee on the proposed endangered species listing of the White Bluffs bladderpod.
-- Reviewed an update to county development regulations. County planning and building director Jerrod MacPherson suggested creating a separate category for "outdoor agricultural entertainment," for farms that have attractions like corn mazes. He said the designation would make it easier to apply for permits. But Peck said it would be simpler to keep the agricultural activities under the "outdoor recreation" designation, then create a list of approved uses to make it easier to apply.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom