PIERRE | State inspection fees on fertilizers should be raised, the state Senate decided Tuesday.
The additional revenue would be used to fund fertilizer research at the Agricultural Experiment Station at South Dakota State University.
There are national watershed concerns about nitrogen and phosphorus levels. State officials said they want to establish agricultural recommendations specific to South Dakota’s conditions.
Farm lobbyists estimate the additional fee revenue would be approximately $300,000 annually. The various fees now range from 5 cents to 25 cents per ton. The legislation would add 15 cents to each of those fees.
Senators voted 30-5 in favor of SB115. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
The legislation also forms a state council on nutrient research and education.
Senate Democratic leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot said the real need is to update fertilizer recommendations for farmers.
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“We don’t want salesmen or salespeople out there with their own recommendations trying to one-up the university,” Frerichs said.
Also speaking in favor was Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center. “And I don’t raise fees lightly. I think it’s necessary. I think we need to stand our ground,” he said.
State Attorney General Marty Jackley, meanwhile, is disputing the federal fertilizer regulations, according to Sen. Shantel Krebs, R-Renner.
“We’re wanting to promote this research because we want to establish as our own in South Dakota, based on SDSU research, numeric values in our watersheds,” Krebs said.
Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, said the research will help farmers know how to apply the right amount of fertilizer. “The producers have also gone on board in favor of this fee assessment,” he said.
Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, was one of several senators who opposed the measure. The others were Republicans Ried Holien of Watertown, Ryan Maher of Isabel, Deb Peters of Hartford and Tim Rave of Baltic.
Brown questioned whether a federal challenge would be productive.