Schmick: Ag Community Can’t Remain On Sidelines In Dams Debate

In late February, the federal government released its draft EIS saying that removing the four lower Snake River dams would be detrimental to the region, and those dams should remain. However, supporters of the dams are quick to point out that the fight is not over. With last month’s draft, comes an open comment period which will run through mid-April.

Colfax Republican Representative Joe Schmick said the dams are vital for the region’s farm economy and way of life. And he added the Ag industry needs to get off of the sidelines.

“People need to become engaged, and not take this idea ‘I can’t do anything’.  Do what you can, write letters, show up.  As far as I’m concerned, I’ve taken the position, not on my watch, now while I’m an elected official in the state of Washington.  Absolutely not.”

Schmick said it’s no mystery what will happen to growers across the Inland Northwest and beyond if the dams are removed. Schmick sat on the Barley Commission back in the 1990s, and noted how the Cutbank, MT area was drastically hurt when the railroad decided to leave town. He said freight prices jumped considerably almost overnight.

“So we have a firsthand knowledge and experience there that we need to learn from.  You took a mode of transportation away, all of the sudden transportation costs were just astronomical, and those poor growers up there, it just eats into their margins.  And I think we can take that same lesson learned there and apply it to our area.”

Click Here to voice your thoughts on the Snake River dams and what they mean to the farming community. A final EIS report is expected to be released in September.

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