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Community Meetings in Pima County Arizona on Show that Monsanto Greenhouse Project Face Stiff Public Opposition

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on January 10, 2017 - 12:10pm

Pima County has scheduled five community meetings to provide information and receive comments on the proposed Monsanto greenhouse facility. 

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has tasked County administration with holding public meetings in each supervisors’ district in order to provide the public more information about the Monsanto proposal and the county's role in the proposal, and to receive feedback from the public.

Pima County Economic Development Deputy Director Patrick Cavanaugh, a Monsanto company representative and recommended subject matter experts plan to attend the meetings. 

The schedule of meetings: 

  • District 1: 5 p.m., Jan., 9, Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive
  • District 2: 6 p.m., Jan. 19; Quincie Douglas Center, 1575 E. 36th Street
  • District 3: 5 p.m., Jan. 17; Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road
  • District 4: 11 a.m., Jan. 13; Green Valley Recreation Center - Las Companas Room, 565 W. Belltower Drive
  • District 5: 6 p.m., Jan. 18; Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress Street

The Board of Supervisors plans to discuss two pending agreements with Monsanto at the Feb. 21 Board meeting.  Pima County also has created a Monsanto information web page

Monsanto recently purchased a 155-acre unused agricultural site near Twin Peaks and Sanders roads. The company plans to invest nearly $100 million in a seven-acre greenhouse facility where it would develop and grow corn seed.

A pair of agreements between the County and Monsanto before the Board of Supervisors include consideration of providing County support for Monsanto’s pursuit of inclusion in the regional federally-approved Foreign Trade Zone. Under state and federal laws, inclusion in the Foreign Trade Zone would provide Monsanto with a reduced property tax assessment ratio, among other benefits. 

Per state law, agricultural property already receives a lowered assessment ratio of 15 percent. If FTZ designation is approved, per federal and state law, the property would be subject to a 5-percent assessment ratio. 

Under existing property tax assessment ratios, the property generated $1,956 in total property taxes in 2015. After the planned site improvements, even with the lower tax assessment ratio, County, fire and school districts would receive $694,416 at the fifth year of the agreement. 

While the agreements before the Board of Supervisors would enumerate County support for Monsanto’s inclusion in the Foreign Trade Zone, they do not themselves grant the designation nor provide the company with any Pima County specific incentives or special property tax considerations, which are granted under state and federal laws. 

Under the terms of the agreements, Monsanto would agree to meet with and report quarterly to Pima County about the use of type and quantity of pesticides used at the site; annual water usage; wastewater volumes; and reports about any hazardous spills at the site. The company also would comply with all federal, state and local laws regarding use, handling and disposal of pesticides and hazardous materials. 

Pima County plans to establish a community-based advisory body – Pima County Agricultural Science Advisory Commission – that will meet at least quarterly to discuss Monsanto operations. The advisory Commission will monitor the Monsanto site and evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural technology in meeting food sustainability objectives and any adverse effects of operations at the site. 

Originally Posted: tucsonnewsnow.com

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