If you have three goats, and you bring them indoors for milking, or clean your milking equipment, you are now considered a CAFO in Oregon. Rules and regulations created to combat the environmental costs of big dairy processors are being pushed onto small farmers, at the request of those processors. Farmers are working to change this.
Statesman Journal 01-29-2024: Small dairies sue Oregon over new rules they say could put them out of business (paywalled on mobile, archive)
Big milk processors produce a big amount of waste. Regulations have been established to make sure they clean it up.
Last year, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) addressed concerns from the “dairy industry,” ie some individual or group of big milk processing corporations, by requiring any farm that brings its animals inside for any amount of time to register as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).
They went out of their way to demand that small dairy farmers abide by the same regulations, because it supposably creates an “unfair competitive advantage.” Notice how that’s not very “environmental” of a concern.
It is cost prohibitive for any dairy that isn’t operating on the same scale – or producing a comparable amount of waste – to meet compliance under the same framework.
All farmers, and people, should keep their living space clean. Regulatory compliance should be achievable and proportionate to the farm’s size and environmental impact. These regulations are not a fit for these farms and threaten to put them out of business.
Part of me thinks those big dairy interests know that, and want small independent farmers to be overwhelmed with boxes to tick, as interest in direct-to-consumer food production (circumventing their bottleneck) is currently on the rise. Unfortunately, the ODA has gone along with their suggestion.
CAFO rules in Oregon
Raw milk on-farm sales are legal in Oregon.
Any farm that keeps cows in a barn for any part of the year is now considered a CAFO, thanks to the aforementioned meddling. ODA has been visiting small farmers and requiring them to register as a CAFO, get the required permits, and meet this unnecessary level of regulation since January 2023.
Godspeed Hollow and Cast Iron Farm are now taking the state to court to change this policy in Oregon. Read the Institute for Justice’s press release: Small Dairies Fight Back After Oregon Department of Agriculture Applies Needless Rules at Request of Big Dairies
Background: Oregon Department of Agriculture, January 2023 – Outreach and Education Program to Unpermitted Raw Milk CAFOs