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Broadsword speaks out

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, wants everyone to know why she voted in favor of HB 33, the bill to define “economically viable alternative” to field-burning as only something that achieves the same agricultural results and costs farmers no more in the short or long term. All other North Idaho senators opposed the bill, arguing in part that it will discourage the search for alternatives to the practice, even if they cost only a tiny bit more than burning.

“I have constituents who are grass-field burners and I have constituents who live in the area that gets the smoke,” Broadsword said. “I think we need to encourage our farmers to keep farming.” She said if the Rathdrum Prairie were developed into homes and streets rather than left as grass seed fields, “you’re putting more pollution into the air.”

“I have sympathy with folks who have asthma – in fact, I have asthma myself,” Broadsword said. But she said the burning last summer lasted just a few days. “It was an inconvenience,” she said.

She also noted that the definition of “economically viable alternative” that the bill writes into law “has been upheld in court.” Opponents of field-burning sued the state over the state agriculture director’s determination for two years that there was no economically viable alternative, so field-burning should be allowed. He opted to use the strict definition of viable alternatives that now is proposed in the bill, and the state won both cases. The bill, which is now on Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s desk, writes that stringent definition into state law.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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