ODA Updates Water Quality Policies for Small Livestock Farms - LivestockTrend


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Tuesday 26 March 2024

ODA Updates Water Quality Policies for Small Livestock Farms

 In a move reflecting its commitment to adapting to the evolving landscape of Oregon's agriculture industry, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has announced significant changes to its policies regarding agricultural water quality regulation, particularly concerning Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

The ODA, entrusted with the oversight of agricultural water quality, including the regulation of permitted CAFOs, has declared its intent to reassess and adjust its policies to better align with the dynamic needs of the communities it serves.

With immediate effect, ODA has rescinded and will refrain from enforcing the policy outlined in a January 2023 white paper, which was discussed during the April 13, 2023, CAFO Advisory Committee meeting. Notably, this entails the withdrawal of a provision that deemed the act of milking animals within a barn or the washing of milking equipment as triggering a requirement for CAFO permit coverage. This revision means that many small farm operators involved in livestock production will no longer face the obligation to obtain CAFO permits, a relief for numerous stakeholders.

As ODA proceeds with an evaluation of its existing CAFO regulations in anticipation of forthcoming rulemaking to implement Senate Bill 85 (2023), it pledges to seek opportunities to clarify the criteria determining who must hold a CAFO permit. The department encourages active participation from both the public and livestock producers in the upcoming rulemaking process, inviting engagement and feedback when draft rules are released for public comment.

While small farm operators may find solace in the easing of CAFO regulations, it's imperative to note that the State of Oregon maintains stringent prohibitions against any agricultural activities that result in water pollution or jeopardize the integrity of state waters. Furthermore, operators remain subject to water quality area regulations, underscoring the ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship in Oregon's agricultural practices.

The ODA's recent policy adjustments signal a proactive approach to regulation, balancing the needs of agricultural operators with the imperative of safeguarding water quality and environmental sustainability across the state.

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