Ag Dept. to change animal classification
By Michelle Dunlop
BOISE — Dairy cows rejoice!
Animals can be animals once again.
On Thursday, a state official asked the House Agricultural Affairs Committee to strike the baffling term “animal unit” when referring to dairy cows, beef cattle, swine and others confined to large dairies and feedlots. The change should eliminate some confusion when it comes to determining the number of animals that a concentrated animal feeding operation — or CAFO — can have.
John Chatburn with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture told committee members that the agency wanted to update the state code to align with that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The reason the EPA went away from it is that it was confusing,” Chatburn said.
The phrase “animal unit” was linked to a scale assigning animals a different unit value based on size and species. For instance, a mature dairy cow received a value of 1.4 units while a pig over 25 kilograms got a score of 0.4 units. The proposed legislation wouldn’t amend the overall level of animal allowed on a dairy or feedlot.
Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, thought the adjustment might make it easier for county officials to discuss the permitting of CAFOs in their counties. Commissioners can ask the state to send a CAFO siting team to determine if a proposed dairy or feedlot is well-suited for its selected location. This legislation would apply to the siting process.
Last year, commissioners in Gooding County enacted a moratorium on CAFOs, saying they needed to get an accurate count of animals in their area. The commissioners have since revised their CAFO ordinance, but it has yet to be adopted. The Idaho Association of Counties supports the change in terminology, Chatburn said.
The committee agreed to print Chatburn’s legislation, which will still need to be passed by the Legislature.
From animal units to animals
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has asked the Legislature to approve a change that eliminates the term “animal units” when defining how many animals make up a concentrated animal feeding operation. If approved, the state would classify CAFOs as any operation that has the following animals:
* 700 mature dairy cows
* 1,000 veal calves
* 1,000 cattle
* 2,500 swine weighing 55 pounds or more
* 10,000 swine weighing less than 55 pounds
* 500 horses
* 10,000 sheep or lambs
* 82,000 chickens