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Proposed ‘Odor Management’ Rule Creates Controversy with Washington Farms

(The Center Square) – The Washington State Board of Health is weighing into manure management with a proposed rule. Critics charge that this would amount to duplication and overregulation of animal waste by the state.

Currently, the Washington State Department of Ecology partners with the Washington State Department of Agriculture in the regulation of manure management through the Dairy Nutrient Management Act and the Federal Clean Water Act.

Though the BOH declined to give a comment to The Center Square, it claims in a “misconceptions” fact sheet that the rule does not create new authority over manure management but rather “focuses on waste when it is first excreted by animals and is first handled by people.”

Some observers are not convinced.

“In addition to duplicated effort, the proposed rule is a violation of the state’s Right to Farm Law, which prohibits requiring farm owners from odor management – a primary component of the proposed rule,” Washington Policy Center’s Initiative of Agriculture director Pam Lewison wrote in an email to The Center Square.

The BOH fact sheet cites the Washington code (RCW 7.48.305) in response to a right to farm claiming that if the agricultural activities are consistent with “good practices” and “conform with all applicable laws and rules,” they are “assumed to be reasonable.”

However, the proposed rule continues to demand the control of odors, fly attraction, rodents, and other vectors for stockpiled livestock waste.

Furthermore, Lewison says if the proposal gets codified as a new rule, taxpayers’ money will be wasted along with hindering farmers’ right to farm.

“Knee-jerk policy that works against farmers and ranchers around our state has been the rule of the day for the last three years and it has been escalating in its severity,” she said.

According to a separate Significant Analysis document for the proposed rule, the BOH aims “to focus squarely on domestic animal waste” rather than commercialized animal waste. Within the document, the BOH admits the proposed updated rule will intersect with other rules and practices but claims it will stop short of other agencies’ regulations.