SALEM - Umatilla County Sheriff John Trumbo testified Wednesday in support of a House bill that would provide a tax credit to farmers who use a special non-toxic dye in anhydrous ammonia that is expected to deter thefts of the chemical by methamphetamine manufacturers.
House Bill 3082 provides a tax credit to farmers who add products like GloTell to anhydrous ammonia for the purposes of deterring theft by meth cooks. Products like GloTell are biodegradable clear liquids that cause staining when exposed to air.
People tampering with a valve on a tank of anhydrous ammonia could end up with fingers stained pink (the dye's color), and the valve will also stain pink to alert farmers it's been touched.
Trumbo said that during a legislative session in Salem Wednesday, Agriculture Committee members brought up several concerns about the bill but none that can't be addressed.
On issue was if the tax credit would apply to companies like Pendleton Grain Growers that sold anhydrous ammonia with the additive already in it, or only to farmers who use the product?
Trumbo said that point can be addressed by modifying the bill's language.
Agriculture Committee members were also concerned with whether or not the dye would stain farmers' crops pink. Trumbo said it will not.
The group also question if the product would really deter thefts and cut down on meth.
"Yes, it will certainly make a difference in the number of people cutting fences and going in and cutting lines," Trumbo said. "This will also have an effect on the number of associated crimes, like trespassing and menacing, that go along with theft."
Trumbo, a member of the governor's meth task force, will travel to Salem again next Thursday to meet with Lt. Craig Durbin of the Oregon State Police and Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, also meth task force members, to modify the bill's language to address the committee's concerns.
Trumbo is optimistic about the bill and what it can do for Umatilla County's meth epidemic. There were 91 meth labs seized in Umatilla County in 2004 and it leads the state so far this year.
"Anything we can do at this point is going to have an effect," Trumbo said. "It may be a major effect or it may be a minor one. But any effect at this point is good."