Beekeepers Fight to Hold Jackson County Oregon To Honeybee Laws

KTVL CBS Channel 10   By Molly Trotter    Novemer 21, 2014

ROGUE RIVER, Ore. -- A long fight between local bee keepers and Jackson County came to a resolution Wednesday.    

For the past three years bee keepers have been fighting to keep tax breaks awarded to them under state law, but the county wants to dip into the bee keeper's pocket.

"Their argument is that bees are not a sufficient  use of the land to qualify as farm use," said John Jacobs, the President of the Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association.

Farmers with land zoned exclusively for farm use and bring a certain amount of farming-based income receive a tax break with bees falling under a livestock category.

Jacob's has bee fighting for his livestock for years and on Wednesday that fight led to a judge's order on the county to abide by state law for farms that are suitable to be a site for bee hives.

"The law already said bees are livestock and qualify as farm use so we are just trying to get the county and the state to follow existing state law," Jacobs said.

Jacobs rents thousands of bee hives to orchardists and stresses bees are impertive to the functionality of the local agriculture industry making exclusive farm use zones , or EFU's, an essential aspect to local farming.

"The intent of  EFU zoning regulations was to preserve farm land so bees really are the backbone of our current farming system," Jacobs said.

Jacobs says he has a dozen locations where he has his hives and several others just like him with hundreds of thousands of bees.

Other Oregon counties have looked to follow Jackson County to tap into more taxpayer money.

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