Agriculture Commissioner Steve LeBryan said Wednesday that he will seek an exemption from a Utah law that requires farmers to plant their own crops.
LeBerns letter to Utah Gov.
Gary Herbert said the state could benefit from an exemption.
The law was passed in 2012 after an outbreak of E. coli in the United States.
LeBlanc said he had received a letter from Herbert’s office that said the governor is considering a change in his administration’s position on the law.
The letter said the Legislature’s agricultural exemption program, which allows farmers to use state funds to purchase seeds and pesticides for crops grown in the state, has been used “generally in the past.”
Herbert’s spokesman, Jason Zemansky, said the letter is incorrect and the governor supports the exemption.
Utah farmers are allowed to buy seeds and pesticide through the state’s farm exchange program, Zemanski said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a statement Wednesday saying it is “extremely concerned about the impact of this bill” and is reviewing the governor’s letter.
The department noted that Utah does not have a law that expressly allows farmers and processors to import seeds and agricultural machinery into the state.
Department has the authority to determine whether a state has the ability to control the importation of imported agricultural machinery,” said the statement.
LeBranc has been the agriculture commissioner since 2015 and has been criticized by some lawmakers and agriculture industry advocates for not taking a strong stance on the E.coli outbreak.
The Utah Farm Bureau Association said he has a record of supporting agricultural subsidies and allowing the state to buy agricultural machinery from foreign countries.
Lebranc has also been criticized for not enforcing Utah’s ban on genetically modified crops, and he has said he wants to expand the use of agricultural chemicals.