The Treasure Valley is the largest onion growing region in the world, and Tuesday morning many leaders from Washington, Payette, and Malheur counties gathered to discuss the recent threats to agriculture brought by collapsing storage and processing facilities.
Hundreds of farmers, dozens of shippers, and more than 14 storage facilities -- all were damaged severely by winter storms. They gathered in the Payette County courthouse to discuss options for disposing of debris, toxic substances, and the tons of onions trapped and frozen under collapsed structures.
"If we don't come up with something very soon," said Dale Nadler, an Idaho Office of Emergency Management Area Field Officer, "people are going to do whatever they have to do to keep themselves going. if that means having an accidental fire and burning down their damaged shed. It's gonna happen," he said.
The Washington County Clerk said he hoped for greater agency among those with damaged property to dispose of it themselves. "When these new onions start, we're gonna infect our whole growing region with onion maggot flies and things that we don't want, that could impact our industry for years."
An area landfill operator said it is crucial for people with debris to sort it properly, as unsorted debris can carry a charge of up to 3x the normal dumping cost.
Malheur County concerns were discussed but no representative was present.
The Washington County representative was Commissioner Kirk Chandler.