An environmental group's lawsuit against five Yakima Valley dairies is not going unnoticed.
Citing concerns the legal battle could have national implications for the dairy industry, the Idaho Dairymen's Association has joined the fight against CARE, an Outlook-based environmental group that in February filed suit against the local dairies.
That's according to Rick Naerebout, executive director for the Idaho dairy group.
Noting the cases have "...implications for all livestock producers, regardless of size or location of the operation," Naerebout in a statement to his group's membership last week said the Idaho Dairymen's Association will cover half of the legal fees the local dairies incur to battle the lawsuit.
"Every day, in every aspect of our lives, people in the Yakima Valley are directly impacted by pollution from these industrial dairies," claimed Helen Reddout of CARE in a statement announcing the lawsuits back in February. "EPA's study confirmed our long-suspected fears. It is time for these operations to take responsibility and stop dumping their problems on us taxpayers to deal with."
CARE and the Washington D.C. based Center for Food Safety are listed as plaintiffs in the case.
Reddout serves on a county groundwater advisory committee that includes representatives from the dairy industry.
The complaints allege violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) imminent and substantial endangerment and open-dumping provisions.
In his comments to the dairy association via its "Idaho Dairy Focus" newsletter, Naerebout noted the dairies and their legal representation last month filed motions to dismiss CARE's claims.
"The effects of this litigation are not confined to the Yakima Valley," states Hugh O'Riordan, an attorney representing the dairies.
He claims if CARE and the Center for Food Safety win there will be sweeping federal regulations for farming activities using common manure management systems.
"This is a national issue brought by national environmental groups and will have an impact on every farm in the United States," O'Riordan says.