YAKIMA – The Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency sided with public opinion last Thursday in turning down a proposal that would have prohibited manure application during burn bans.
Two public hearings on the idea, petitioned by a group of 50 county residents and an attorney, were held last month. The crowd at both hearings was unanimous in opposition to the ban. Backers of the petition declined to speak in favor of their proposal during either hearing.
Dave Caprile is the clean air agency’s spokesman, and said another factor in last week’s decision was the fact the agency just last month approved a dairy best management practices program.
The county’s dairies aren’t required to register with the program until Jan. 1, 2014, and Caprile says the board wants to give those rules time to work.
“Our dairy policy is not in total effect and they want to see how this resolves the complaints responsible for the original petition,” he says.
Caprile adds there are already agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, directly involved with when and where nutrient application can take place.
Besides, he notes, there are already laws on the books that forbid farms from spraying manure when the ground is frozen. It’s also a matter of practicalities, Caprile adds. “It doesn’t make good sense to apply nutrients when it’s just going to freeze, those kinds of things will be looked at by our (best management practices) policy.”
Another factor at play is that banning burning and manure spraying is a matter of apples and oranges.
“Burn bans apply to particulates as a result of wood burning activity, it has nothing to do with nutrients,” Caprile says.
Though the manure spray ban is out of play, he notes board members can always consider it in the future.
“They reserve the right to re-open a rule-making process should our dairy best management practices not become effective,” Caprile says. “But that will take a period of assessment to determine.”