Milk Prices, Livestock Testing Costs Expected to Increase Because of Agriculture Department Fee Hikes
The price of milk sold at the grocery store probably will increase because of a measure the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has approved. Required tests for livestock shown by 4-H and FFA students will cost more. So will the cost of fertilizer, feeds and grains.
House Joint Resolution 1030 is an omnibus measure in which the House passed judgment on myriad administrative rules proposed by state agencies. Authors of the measure were two Republicans: Rep. George Faught of Muskogee and Sen. Marty Quinn of Claremore.
The House endorsed the resolution Tuesday, 66-23, and transmitted it to the Senate for their consideration.
HJR 1030 authorizes a host of fee increases proposed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry that will generate an estimated $191,000.
Price hikes for animal health testing will produce more than half of that anticipated net revenue, an estimated $105,000, said Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, a veterinarian. For example:
- A pseudorabies test for a hog will increase by half, from $4 to $6.
- Each brucellosis test for a hog will increase from $3 to $5, except for the complement fixation test, which will cost $10.
- An AGID (agar gel immune-diffusion) test for equine infectious anemia will increase by a third, from $7.50 to $10.
- Fee increases for dairy product and food safety tests will generate an estimated $14,000, officials said.
- The test for fat, protein, added water and lactose in dairy products will more than triple, from $6 to $20.
- Testing for antibiotics in dairy products will increase by one-third, from $15 to $20.
- Increases in feed and fertilizer tests will net perhaps $1,000, officials estimated.
- The testing fee for fat, dry pet foods and for milk replacers will double, from $25 to $50.
- A moisture test will go up by $2, from $5 to $7.
- A fertilizer testing fee for phosphate will increase by half, from $20 to $30, and a new test for total phosphate will cost $24.
“Increasingly, the Legislature is financing our government through fee increases,” Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, asserted Wednesday during debate on the House floor.
Renegar noted that the Republican majority in the Legislature intends to slice $1.17 million from the appropriation to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in Fiscal Year 2016 to help close a $611 million state budget shortfall.
Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, has previously made the same argument Proctor did, on several occasions. For example, rules of the state Department of Environmental Quality “force people in my area of the state” who install septic systems to provide an expensive “soil profile” rather than a cheaper percolation test that determines the absorption rate of soil and costs perhaps $400 to about $1,500.