Yakima County dairymen have made excellent progress in meeting the state's deadline for the implementation of nutrient management plans , according to an announcement by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
With more than half of the state's 599 licensed dairies located in the Yakima Valley, 80 percent of the state's dairies have met the state mandated Dec. 23, 2003 deadline, said Nona Mena, a program manager of the state's Livestock Nutrient Management programs.
"They have done an outstanding job of creating and implementing plans to prevent dairy nutrients from entering the state's water supply," Mena said Thursday.
She said only one Lower Valley dairy is still in the process of implementing its plan. "But we expect that farm will be in compliance soon," Mena said.
"We are pleased with the hard work of those dairies that have implemented plans," said Valoria Loveland, WSDA director.
"We are working with the remaining dairies to get them into compliance," she said, adding that plan implementation is important to protect water quality.
Mena said of the 20 percent of dairies not meeting the Dec. 23, 2003 deadline, 4 percent are new dairies with a later deadline, and 11 percent have applied for an extension.
The 2003 dairy nutrient management plan deadline was mandated by the state legislature in 1998, allowing new dairies to have deadlines beyond 2003, Mena explained.
The dairymen's nutrient management plans are designed to protect surface and groundwater. The plans involve expensive infrastructure improvements to the state's dairies, she said.
The dairymen were charged with adding everything from filtering lagoons to concrete slabs to prevent the discharge of contaminated water or manure into the state's water system. Mena emphasized that dairy waste is a valuable source of crop nutrients.
"Good nutrients management not only protects water quality, but can save operations money and resources spent on commercial fertilizers," she said.
The state's conservation districts provided technical assistance to the dairies and helped to approve nutrient plans, Mena said. The districts also helped to certify the dairy operators' plans and use of the plans.
Mena said the state Department of Agriculture will periodically inspect the dairies to assure compliance with the state law.
. Julia Hart can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail her at email@example.com