Global Agriculture

Oregon Legislature Passes Legislation Addressing Harms from Mega-Dairies

23 June 2023, salem: Yesterday the Oregon Legislature passed SB 85, a bill to reform the regulation of factory farms and temporarily close an exemption allowing use of drinking water for livestock without a permit or water right. This legislation is the first in decades to address the harms from mega-sized animal factories and their impacts to our critical water supply and public health. 

Center for Food Safety is a founder and leader of the Stand Up to Factory Farms (SUFF) coalition which has worked for years to secure a moratorium on new mega-dairies and other mega-sized factory farms. SUFF issued the following statement:

Stand Up to Factory Farms is grateful to the legislators that understand the factory farm influx facing Oregon and its contribution to the climate crisis, freshwater shortages, and public health crisis in the Lower Umatilla Basin. The version of SB 85 passed on June 21, 2023 is a small step forward in addressing these issues, and SUFF is committed to continue working with our elected officials and allies to protect Oregonians, secure vibrant rural economies, and ensure a livable environment for all communities across our great state. The work is far from over and we call on all communities to hold your representatives accountable to protecting our values: clean air and water for all, safe and fair jobs, humane treatment of animals, and a livable climate for future generations.

SB 85 will prevent new large CAFOs from taking advantage of the archaic stockwater loophole that allowed factory farms to use precious groundwater without a water right or permit, for the next five years. It codifies the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s multi-step permit process for surface and groundwater pollution (required for a CAFO to operate) to require a water supply plan reviewed by the Oregon Water Resources Department, tribal government and neighbor notification, and agency sign off on infrastructure before a CAFO is populated with animals. The bill further gives more authority to local counties to require setbacks in CAFO siting (previously a rubber stamp exercise), and crucially, it sets the stage for the Department of Environmental Quality to finally regulate air pollutants (like ammonia and methane) from factory farms. 

“Through years of advocacy and education, Oregon legislators are slowly understanding how many Oregonians–including farmers and people living nearby CAFOs–are harmed by the influx of mega-sized factory farms and that action needs to be taken now,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety. “While SB 85 is a good first step, much more is needed to protect our air, water, climate, and impacted communities, and we will not stop until Salem takes seriously the impacts of industrial animal agriculture on public and environmental health.”

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