Dairies across Washington continue to challenge the Department of Ecology’s updated CAFO permit.  Dan Wood with the Washington state Dairy Federation said they have several issues with the way Ecology’s CAFO permit reads.  He said a CAFO permit should demonstrate protection done by farmers to keep ground and surface water clean.  But Wood added DOE has missed the mark in several ways.


“The permit requires soil testing to the degree that it does not provide any management information.  It would change where you measure the lagoon liner in a way that on paper, would make lagoons deficient even through they are meeting NRCS standards.”


Wood said even if there are no issues, DOE could call current lagoons a failure because of these unneeded permitting changes.  Wood added many of the changes put forth by Ecology contradict the permit issued by the Washington state Department of Agriculture.  He said WSDA understands agriculture, and the DOE does not.


“In particular, when it comes to dairy, the Department of Ecology did not understand that you do not have your fall harvest done by October 1.  It was an act based on their ignorance of farming practices, and I think we’ve seen that in other aspects of the permit as well.”


Recently a judge heard argument about the CAFO permit, and if the altered permit by DOE should continue.  Wood said they hope to hear something from the courts in the next two months.  He added it’s important that Washington not make it unfairly challenging for dairies to operate in the state.


Wood pointed out that Washington has lost 85% of its dairies in the past 25 years, dropping to 377 operations across the state.




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