Category Archives: Environment & Water

Statewide agricultural organizations challenge new permit requirement issued by Department of Ecology


Feb. 24, 2017

Elma, Wash. – The Washington State Dairy Federation and the Washington Farm Bureau filed a joint appeal last week that challenges the recent Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permits issued by the Department of Ecology.

“The requirements of the permit will make it harder to manage dairy nutrients,” said Dairy Federation Executive Director Dan Wood. “The intent of the permits is to set guidelines for environmental protection, but the requirements of the permit will make it harder to do that.”

Dairy farms are already regulated under the state Dairy Nutrient Management Act, and each dairy has one or more lagoons for holding nutrients (dairy manure) until the appropriate time to spread the nutrients as fertilizer.”

The federal Natural Resource Conservation Service provides standards for dairy lagoon construction and maintenance. Most dairy lagoons are lined with clay, and some are lined with synthetic material.

“Dairy nutrients are a highly-valued natural fertilizer used to grow crops on dairies as well as on adjoining farms,” said Washington Farm Bureau Chief Executive Officer John Stuhlmiller. “Dairy is the state’s second-largest agricultural commodity and is extremely important to our state economy. It’s important to note that the nutrients from dairy operations are important to a lot of other farmers across the state, especially those growing organic crops. It’s a dependable supply of natural, healthy fertilizer.”

The appeal states the permits “impose management constraints that are contrary to the water quality protections the CAFO Permits seek to obtain, impose restrictions on the operations of dairy farms that would decrease rather than increase water quality protection, will cause WSDF members to suffer economic loss with no or no meaningful corresponding protection of water quality, and include terms that are unachievable because the CAFO Permits are divorced from the reality of Washington’s annual crop harvest, rainfall, and manure applications.”

“The permit failed to take into account some key farm management practices,” noted Stuhlmiller. “It requires fall soil sampling after crop harvest but no later than October 1. A lot of farms haven’t even started their crop harvest by then, making it virtually impossible to comply with the demands of the permit.”

Stuhlmiller also noted that the testing requirements and nutrient application limitations are particularly counter-productive for Eastern Washington, where many fields see two harvests in the course of a year.

“There are a number of management restrictions that will result in less-productive crops, less uptake of the nutrients by the plants, and a need for bigger lagoons,” said Wood. “The regulations in the permits will work against good management practices.”

The appeal also notes that the Economic Impact Analysis “underestimates the actual impacts on small businesses posed by costs of complying with the CAFO Permits. First, the EIA underestimated the costs of soil sampling and the impact on permittees from the delay for planting winter crops. The EIA also fails to recognize any economic impacts from the loss of land caused, for example, by the 100- or 35- foot land buffers” required by one of the permits.

The appeal requests that certain aspects of the permits be reviewed and revised to be consistent with state and federal laws and agency-prescribed practices that already regulate the use of livestock nutrients.

The Washington State Dairy Federation is an advocacy organization representing dairy producers on local, state and federal legislative and regulatory issues. For more information about the Washington State Dairy Federation, go to To speak with the Washington State Dairy Federation on this topic, please contact Dan Wood at or (360) 870-6018.

Washington Farm Bureau is a 42,000-member advocacy organization representing family farmers and ranchers across the state. For more information about Washington Farm Bureau, go to To speak with Washington Farm Bureau on this topic, please contact John Stuhlmiller at or (360) 357-9975.


What does the Ecology CAFO permit mean for you?

The Washington State Department of Ecology recently released the final version of the CAFO permits.

The main question we are getting from producers is this: “Am I required to get one of these permits?”

A CAFO is defined as having 200 or more mature dairy cows (milking or not). A Small CAFO is an operation that has fewer than 200 mature dairy cows and has been designated a significant contributor of pollutants to surface or groundwater by Ecology.

  • If you are a CAFO or Small CAFO and have a surface water discharge, you must apply for the combined permit.
  • If you are a CAFO or Small CAFO and have a groundwater discharge, you must apply for the state groundwater permit.
  • If you have neither a surface water discharge nor a groundwater discharge, permit application is not mandated.

The permit is effective March 4, 2017. Applications may be started at any time.

The Washington State Dairy Federation has analyzed Ecology’s work and developed a comparison of the two permits. This comparison document can be found here, and our letter to members can be found here.

We will also be hosting meetings for our members across the state to discuss the ramifications of the permits.

Producer meetings should last no longer than two hours. The producer meetings are as follows:

  • Feb. 13 11:30 a.m. Sunnyside Snipes Mountain Brewery Restaurant (Lunch provided)
  • Feb. 14 11:30 a.m. Enumclaw VFW Hall, 44426 244th Ave SE (Lunch provided)
  • Feb. 15 11:30 a.m. Lynden Dutch Mother’s Restaurant (Lunch provided)
  • Feb. 15 6:00 p.m. Monroe Qualco, 18117 203rd St SE (Pizza Dinner provided)
  • Feb. 22 1:00 p.m. Chehalis Livestock Market 328 N Hamilton Rd (Snacks & drinks provided)
  • Feb. 23 11:30 a.m. Deer Park Dunrenton Ranch (Littrell), 8524 W. Dahl Rd. (Lunch provided)
  • Feb. 23 6:00 p.m. Othello City Hall, 500 E. Main St. (Pizza Dinner provided)

It is not required to RSVP for these producer meetings, but it helps us to plan if we have an idea of how many will attend. Please email to let her know which producer meeting(s) you will attend. Feel free to bring as many people from your dairy, and any industry associates, as you want. We only ask that you help us anticipate numbers so we can have enough handouts and food.

If you have questions, please feel free to call Dan Wood or Jay Gordon. You can reach them at the Dairy Federation office at 360-482-3485, or you can reach Dan on his cell phone at 360-870-6018 or Jay on his cell phone at 360-951-8419.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation General Permit

The proposed CAFO permit will be costly!

Your comments on this proposed permit are necessary to protect your interests. Please read these details and provide comments to the Department of Ecology.

Send comments to Ecology. They must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 31. Send comments to:

Washington State Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program
Attn: Jon Jennings
PO Box 47696
Olympia, WA 98504-7696

It is extremely important to make your voices heard by August 31th.

Here are links to more information to assist in making comments.

Washington State Dairy Federation materials:

Department of Ecology materials:

Other materials: