Cows, chickens, and other livestock on large farms in Oregon will no longer have an unlimited supply of water to slake their thirst, thanks to drought conditions and a new state law curtailing a livestock watering exemptions for confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle. In the past, while crop farmers and other ag operations saw wells and irrigation ditches run dry because of drought, the owners of large egg, dairy, and meat farms could tap into as much water as they needed for their animals under the so-called “stockwater exemption.” But Senate Bill 85, which awaits Gov. Tina Kotek’s signature to become law, places stricter water limits and water reporting rules on ranchers and other livestock operations, a change stemming from the environmental mess left behind by Lost Valley Farms, a now-closed megadairy that operated 18 months in Morrow County. The new law would cap the exemption at 12,000 gallons of water per day for new or growing CAFOs and impose strict reporting requirements on the owners. Existing CAFOs, although would be grandfathered, would be required to submit water use plans to renew permits.
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