Please contact your state representative and senator by March 20 and urge them to support Senate Bill 103! The bill would put a moratorium on mega-dairies and create a task force to look into animal welfare issues in the dairy industry.
Additional Information and More Ways to Get Involved (If You Want Details)
Earlier this year, the mega-dairy known as Lost Valley Farm near Boardman shuttered under a cloud of permit violations, drug arrests, bankruptcy and animal welfare concerns. Evidence of animal welfare problems included photos by state inspectors of cows standing knee-keep in manure (below), water-quality permit violations that included "mortality storage . . . full and leaking liquid," and a final cleanup agreement requiring that "all animal mortalities" be "removed to landfill or rendering." Mega-dairies by nature also create other animal welfare issues, including extreme confinement, lack of access to pasture, extreme production demands, and early separation of calves from mothers.
The Oregon Legislature is now considering a bill to prevent a repeat of the Lost Valley Farm disaster. Senate Bill 103 would put a put a moratorium on new and expanded “industrial” dairies - defined as having more than 2,500 cows or more than 700 without at least seasonal access to pasture - until water quality, water quantity and other issues are addressed. Among other things, the bill would create a Dairy Animal Welfare Task Force - with equal numbers of representatives from the dairy industry and animal welfare organizations - to review animal welfare practices in the dairy industry and make recommendations. This would not solve all animal welfare issues in the dairy industry, but it would be a good start and help keep attention on the issues.
So please contact your state representative and senator and urge them to support Senate Bill 103. If you don’t know who your state representative and senator are, you can find out here. You can also urge all members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to support the bill. They must agree to send the bill to the full Senate before it can go any further. You can find their names and links to their email addresses here. You also can submit written comments to the Committee's official record (through March 20) by sending them here. Finally, you can testify at the Committee's public hearing on the bill, which has been set for 1 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in Hearing Room C at the State Capitol, 900 Court St. NE, Salem.
It's always best to use your own words, but you could say something like: "Please support Senate Bill 103. The state needs a timeout on mega-dairies. Please also make sure any bill on the subject includes a task force to examine animal welfare issues in the dairy industry. There are many issues and they need to be addressed."
Be sure to say if you are a constituent of the senator or representative (i.e., if you live in their district - find out here).
If your state Senator is Michael Dembrow, or if you contact him as chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, please also thank him for being a leader on this important issue. He helped get Senate Bill 103 introduced and is pursing a number of other legislative concepts to improve mega-dairy regulation.