Washington farmers fume over fuel surcharge

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Washington farmers are frustrated over a fuel surcharge they say they shouldn’t be paying.

In 2021, lawmakers passed the Climate Commitment Act, which is designed to drastically cut greenhouse emissions through a carbon capturing plan. One key reason the Climate Commitment Act was made into law was that it exempts farms from a fuel surcharge.

But they’re now paying it for the foreseeable future.

Every time Jason Vander Kooy tops off one of his tractors he sees his family farm tanking.

“We’re actually losing money every month right now,” he said.

Vander Kooy’s Harmony Dairy Farm in Mount Vernon has been around 49 years, but since the state’s cap and invest program went into effect business has taken a huge hit. …

“It’s frustrating because we work every day of the week, hour after hour,” said Vander Kooy. “You’re trying to keep the farm afloat. Then all these extra burdens keep getting placed on us. It’s very discouraging.”

Farmers blame the Washington state Department of Ecology for a flawed system they say provides no way for suppliers to track and report exempt fuels, so they simply pass the cost on to customers. …

Vander Kooy would like to see some sort of refund mechanism implemented.

For now, he has no choice but to keep paying, hoping his second generation farm sees a third.

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