Oregon Cattlemen Association Legislative update 2/10

Agriculture Update
Oregon Cattlemen Association

Items reviewed in this article:

1. Removal and Fill
2. Meat Inspection Meeting
3. CAFO Meeting
4. Air Contamination Fees
5. Oregon Water Resources Commission Initiative

Removal and Fill
The Natural Resource lobby groups provided the House Water and Environment very similar and stern messages on HB 2155 and 2156. These two bills were introduced by the Governor on behalf of Division of State Lands (DSL) which had no previous input from the Natural Resource community.  To say the least, these bills were a surprise attack on agriculture concerning there very important Removal and Fill statutes, and the authority over “waters of the state.”

The agriculture lobby was successful in negotiating an agreement to require DSL to sit down with the stakeholders in agriculture and talk about the two bills and what they need and what is important.  Chairman, Rep. Ben Cannon called OFB and apologized for providing a hearing for the two bills when he didn’t realize what DSL was asking and that they had not included the agriculture stakeholders.  OCA testimony is attached.

Meat Inspection Meeting

The livestock interests have been talking about state meat inspection possibilities and what would need to be done to make it happen.  Every where the subject was discussed there were positive reactions to developing state meat inspection but there were more questions than answers.  So, it was decided that there needed to be a discussion with the representatives (lobbyists) of the interested livestock stakeholders and ODA before embarking on a very involved project.  The meeting on January 28th provided a lot of history and insight from ODA which lead to more questions.  It was decided that some of the first questions that needed to be answered were not involving state meat inspection.  Answers for who is interested, and at what level, and location are more important than meat inspection which is available at the best price from USDA.  It seems to be a question of custom processing availability; for any small number of animals; within a short time line; any time of the year; at convenient locations within the state, that are the most important needs for some of the livestock industry.  One possibility that seemed to provide an avenue to more answers, at an affordable price, was to commission an individual, through ODA, to be in charge of the project and begin to connect all the dots wherever possible and bring some answers back to a coordinating committee of interested stakeholders.

CAFO Meeting
ODA called a meeting of the CAFO Task Force members to discuss recent response/lack of response from EPA.  There were two different responses from EPA concerning the State Small and Medium CAFO that are proposed to be regulated under the NPDES general permit as State CAFOs.  The EPA CAFO staff at Region 10 was concerned with two different public notice requirements, by Oregon, and that the CAFOs did not meet the federal definition of CAFO but were required to obtain an NPDES permit under the Oregon program. EPA initially indicated that Oregon should write the permit in such a way to clearly articulate that these operations are not federally defined and not regulated by NPDES permit provisions. So the State should call the small and medium State CAFO, the Small federal CAFO.

CAFO staff at the EPA Region 10 water program responded differently and indicated that Oregon can have a broader program with and NPDES permit, but EPA would not be able to enforce against sources that aren’t included in the federal program.  Furthermore, in Oregon and other states, it is a practice to regulate a larger universe of sources or potential sources than is required under the federal Clean Water Act and as practiced by EPA.  So, ODA asks, why must Oregon use the designation process adopted by EPA to regulate a state operation with a NPDES permit?  EPA Region 10 water attorney will get back with answer.

The CAFO Task Force indicated that ODA should continue with the permit as written and see what EPA’s final response will be.  If EPA requires changes then we will work together to make those changes.

Air Contamination Fees
In the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee there was a public hearing on SB 103 that would increase the Environmental Quality Commissions (EQC) authority to establish fees by rule for registration of certain classes of air contamination sources.  Fortunately, agriculture has exemptions amongst the selected classes but that could change, especially at the federal level, so it is important to respond to this legislation with a definite message that the legislature is responsible for approving any fee or schedule of fees that the EQC has requested, and not approval and implementation by agency rule.

Oregon Water Resources Commission Initiative

OCA (Jim Welsh) and Water for Life (Helen Moore) participated in an informal stakeholder meeting with three Water Resources Commissioners (Jeanne LeJeune, Mary Meloy, and John Roberts), a work group with the intention of “ensuring the orderly development of Oregon’s integrated water resources strategy, providing vision and oversight as well as policy guidance on both the strategic planning process and product.”

“The OWRC working group is very interested in sketching out what the overall public process might look like, so that they can continue to organize their approach and stay in dialogue with the Legislature and full Commission during 2009.  They asked the Department to arrange some informal meetings with stakeholders in early January (Jan. 8-9) to get input on the public process, and figure out how to best partner with other organizations.  They want to get to know water users, environmental groups, tribes, local governments, and other stakeholders and see if they can get some creative ideas on the table with regard to process, input, outreach, etc.”

It is the Governor’s intention to continue to prepare for Oregon’s “Integrated Water Resources Strategy.”  Fortunately, there is a large stakeholder group that has been working together for almost two years on water issues and you can take it to the bank that they will continue to participate in this effort.

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