Oregon Senate Bill 85-B Proposes Regulatory Changes to Animal Feeding Operations

OREGON – (Information from the Oregon Senate) Agriculture, in particular livestock, is a staple of both Oregon’s economy and its history. As the industry has evolved, so have practices and regulations. An Oregon Senate Bill, SB-85-B, is proposing changes to the current environmental and water use regulations pertaining to confined animal feeding operations and their associated permits. The summary listed by the Oregon Legislature states:

“Makes certain changes concerning water quality permits for confined animal feeding operations. Authorizes State Department of Agriculture to issue nutrient application permits. Requires persons that apply for water quality permits for certain confined animal feeding operations to submit water supply plans. Makes certain changes to exemption from certain water laws for stockwatering. Sunsets changes on September 15, 2027. Requires Department of Environmental Quality to report on findings of United States Environmental Protection Agency study relating to confined animal feeding operations to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to agriculture not more than 180 days after study is finalized. Establishes certain requirements concerning land use compatibility statements related to proposed confined animal feeding operations. Authorizes governing body of city or county to require setback or buffer between proposed confined animal feeding operation and adjacent land parcels in specified circumstances. Appropriates moneys to State Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality for purposes related to permitting and report. Declares emergency, effective on passage”

For reference, the environmental protection agency defines Animal Feeding Operation (AFOs) as: “agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. An AFO is a lot or facility (other than an aquatic animal production facility) where the following conditions are met:

  • animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and
  • crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.”

Note that the bill can be read in full at SB0085 (oregonlegislature.gov). The remainder of this article summarizes and notes some significant attributes of the bill which may hold relevance to members of the public and those involved with livestock operations. 

In brief, the new changes proposed in the bill outline the establishment of new permits, surveys, and regulations under ORS 463B.053 and 463B.215. The first permit required under SB-85-B is a water quality permit to be issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Among the criteria and stipulations, Section 1 subsection 4 for the bill notes permits may not be given to large, confined animal feeding operations that are located within a groundwater management area or that produce waste that may land within one. 

Section 1, subsection 5a-B also states that, regarding the permit: “A new large, confined animal feeding operation shall send individual notice of the public comment period for the permit, by mail, to all persons on record as owning property within one-half mile of the parcel of land on which the new large, confined animal feeding operation is proposed to be located.”

The second permit required under the bill is a Nutrient Application Permit, which, as the name suggests, oversees the use of nutrients within animal feeding operations. Specifically, as listed in section 5:

  • “The rate of nutrient application.
  • The source of nutrients.
  • The placement of the nutrients.
  • The timing of nutrient applications.
  • The volume of wastewater applied to the surface of the lands per time period.”

Beyond the new permits, a comprehensive water supply plan is also required for operations under the bill. As stated in Section 7-1

“A person that applies for a permit under ORS 468B.050 for a confined animal feeding operation operating under an NPDES or WPCF permit, as described in ORS 468B.215 (2), shall submit with the application a water supply plan that identifies all sources of the water that will be used to supply the level and duration of the water needs of the confined animal feeding operation, including any ancillary operations of the confined animal feeding operation, as described in the application.”

Other major attributes include an air emissions monitoring study by the DEQ and the requirement of city and county land use compatibility statements. At the time of writing, the bill has completed its third reading within The Senate and first within The House. It has currently been referred to The Speaker’s desk.