FY21-23 Operating Budget Breakdown

To borrow a saying from my family, “the job’s not over until the paperwork is finished.” In the case of this legislative session, the paperwork includes at least a peek at the details of the operating budget. Granted, the full legislative proposal runs over 1,100 pages, in nearly incomprehensible legalese, so this will be a peek from an extreme altitude. For those who want to dive into the deep end of the pool, this is the agency-level summary I used.

State Conservation Commission

  1. If you have not seen the traditional breakdown released by Commission staff, I suggest you do so (21-23 Operating Budgets SCC Compromise Version).
  2. CTA – What I suspect is the most significant new item for WACD’s member districts is the $2,000,000 in new, ongoing Conservation Technical Assistance funding. Distributed to districts as Implementation Grants, an equal division would result in more than $22,000 in each of the next two years. This item was WACD’s #1 legislative priority and we are very glad to see that increase.
  3. Wildfire Recovery – For conservation districts affected by last year’s wildfires, there is $3,000,000 in one-time funding for the Commission to distribute to districts for “technical assistance, project cultural resources review, engineering, and cost-share grants to landowners for recovery from wildfire damage.” This was also a WACD legislative priority.
  4. VSP – For the many districts that receive Voluntary Stewardship Program funding, you will be happy to hear that VSP is funded above last biennium’s level.
  5. There are also numerous, more targeted projects that received funding through the Commission, including:
    • $27,000 for pollinator health and to implement SB 5253;
    • $125,000 for agricultural water bank two-year pilot project in Okanogan County; and
    • $340,000 for the continued support of the Food Policy Forum.

Other Operating Budget Highlights

  1.  Wildfires, Forests, & Communities – $125 million to DNR via a combination of one-time and ongoing funding will be provided for the purposes of the Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration, and Community Resilience Account created in House Bill 1168 (Long-term forest health). Specific activities include fire preparedness (such as ground and aerial firefighting resources), fire prevention (such as forest health improvements), and fire protection (such as grants and outreach to communities).
  2. Shrubsteppe Recovery/Preparedness – $2,350,000 to WDFW in ongoing funding is provided to develop and implement preparedness plans and to recover shrubsteppe habitat from impacts of catastrophic fires.
  3.  Post-Wildfire Habitat Recovery – $280,000 to WDFW in funding for post-wildfire habitat recovery is increased on an ongoing basis. Issues addressed by this funding include noxious weeds, erosion, and the re-establishment of native vegetation.
  4.  Water Banking Grants – $10 million to Dept. of Ecology for one-time funding to establish a pilot grant program for water banks in rural counties, including reviewing water banking grant applications, finalizing water banking agreements, and distributing grant funds.
  5. Food Supply Chain – $9 million to WSDA to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on farm-to-food operations, one-time funding is provided for food infrastructure and market access grants that assist farms, food processors, and food distributors to pivot to new markets and business models.
  6. Fertilizer Program – $153,000 to WSDA in ongoing funding is provided to implement the provisions of Senate Bill 5318 (fertilizer fees), which increases fertilizer fees paid to WSDA. WSDA’s fertilizer program checks that fertilizers distributed in Washington are not adulterated with heavy metals, product labels provide sufficient and accurate information, and products contain the guaranteed nutrients claimed.
  7. Meat & Poultry Inspection – $4 million to WSDA in one-time funding to implement a meat and poultry program with grant funding, that will expand the opportunity to market meat and poultry grown within the State.
  8. Equity in Farming – $180,000 to WSDA in one-time funding for coordination and a report on efforts to ensure inclusion of historically underrepresented farmers and ranchers in the agricultural industry.
  9. Shellfish/Pest Management Plan – $1.4 million to WSDA in one-time funding for the department to continue the collaborative work with the shellfish industry and other natural resource agencies to provide research grants to assist with the development of an integrated pest management plan to find a suitable replacement for imidacloprid to address burrowing shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.