Fifty Skagit and Snohomish County farmers gathered Tuesday morning to learn about funding programs, new regulations and management tools for handling manure to protect water quality. The farmers, mostly dairy with some beef and equine operators, filled the room as Dr. Nichole Embertson, Whatcom Conservation District Science and Planning Coordinator, and staff from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and local conservation districts briefed the group. Of special concern for dairy operators are the new regulations for CAFO permits recently issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit requires large-scale livestock operations in Washington to implement specific practices to better protect groundwater, rivers, lakes and marine waters from manure pollution. It builds on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Nutrient Management Program, which has been in place for years. On January 18, 2017, the water quality (CAFO) permit was updated so farmers are in the process of learning about new requirements. The permits become effective on March 2, 2017.
Record keeping, soil test interpretations, and manure management tools for helping farmers better manage manure were also topics that garnered interest. Similar well-attended workshops were recently held in King and Whatcom counties. For more information, contact your local conservation district or Agriculture Service Center. In Snohomish County, contact Brett de Vries or Eric Schuh at farmplanners(at)snohomishcd.org.
You can also visit this website to learn about the new permit requirements: CAFO Permit.