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Local Dairy Farms threatened by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Other Environmental Groups

In Farming, News by commonnw

Today’s Farming Show with Dillon Honcoop highlighted the dangers to the future of farming in Whatcom County. Local nonprofit, RE Sources for a Sustainable Community, continue to claim that local farms and especially dairy farms are polluting the environment and continue to push for regulations that will seriously harm dairy farming in Whatcom County. The claims within their lawsuit were disproven by recent testing within the Nooksack waterways, using the data collected by the Washington State Department of Ecology and Lummi Nation.

DNA testing currently shows no evidence of contamination from cattle; reduced nitrate levels show lagoons and nutrient management are working to improve groundwater quality

(LYNDEN, WA) Farmers are cheering more and more good news about improving water quality in the Nooksack river watershed. Most significant is the result of DNA tests in the Nooksack river and Bellingham Bay that revealed no evidence of contamination from cattle. The tests were conducted by the EPA in conjunction with the Lummi Nation.

RE Sources, Puget Soundkeepers Alliance, and other Environmental Groups have co-signed to legal action which seeks to pressure the State of Washington to move forward with changes to the CAFO permits (concentrated animal feeding operations permits). At a cost of millions of dollars, the local dairy farmers asked for reasonable changes to the proposed changes, or they will be forced to close down and move elsewhere. Those changes were approved by the Dept. of Ecology, but that wasn’t okay with groups like RE Sources. Last Saturday, Dillon Honcoop of Save Family Farming shared the numbers which have been analyzed and found to be worse than they even they imagined they would be.

Click here to read the article on Save Family Farming and check out the numbers.

The article below was published by the local nonprofit, Save Family Farming.
The CAFO Appeal: How So-Called Environmental Groups are Working to Destroy Dairy Farming in Washington State


If the anti-farm groups listed below have their way with the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation appeal to the Department of Ecology, it will mean the end of almost all our state dairy farms. The cost of these demands are estimated at about $1130 per cow for Western Washington farms, or over $750,000 for the average dairy farm. With low milk prices and farms losing money for the past two years, there is no hope for most to pay these costs. 

Washington state has long been a dairy state. It ranks 10th in the nation in dairy production and the economic impact to the state is measured at $5.2 billion. Dairy products are the state’s number two agricultural product following only apples. Virtually all dairy farms are family owned and operated with an average herd size of 665 cows. The number of organic dairies – now about 5% of the total – is growing rapidly to meet the high demand in the state for organic dairy products. Click link to continue to read full story.

The article below was published by the businesses and nonprofits listed on the image below-right. They  want the reader to believe that the problem is due to dairy farms. Not so, according to the recently a released study done by the local farmers, the Lummi Nation, and the Department of Ecology.
Washington State Sustainable Agriculture Campaign

The water quality of Washington state’s Puget Sound has been and continues to be degraded by pollution from factory farms called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Although there are approximately 1,200 CAFOs in the state, only 14 are required to operate with a permit to discharge pollution.

An adult dairy cow generates roughly 120 pounds of manure per day or as much as 20-40 people. The waste generated at these facilities is stored in unlined lagoons and over-applied to farmland, causing grave environmental, public health, and economic problems. In Puget Sound, CAFO pollution has been linked to shellfish bed closures and ocean acidification, perhaps this region’s most imminent environmental and economic catastrophe. Already, acidification has wiped out billions of oyster larvae in the Puget Sound; has impacted pteropods, which are critical food for birds and fish, and poses risks for other important sea life, including red king crab and wild salmon.

We are working with our partners to get the Washington State Department of Ecology to alter the CAFO General Permit to require:

  • Universal coverage for all medium and large CAFOs;
  • Surface and groundwater monitoring; and
  • Best management practices such as lined lagoons and salmon stream buffers.

As part of our Washington CAFO permit work, WELC provides legal services to its clients/partners, which now include over 20 environmental organizations and tribal governments. WELC is working to broaden its base of partners/clients to include ecotourism organizations, shellfish growers, sustainable agricultural operations, health professionals, and additional Native American tribes.

View maps showing dairy and water pollution threats to Puget Sound:

Plus, check out this interactive map that shows water pollution in Puget Sound.