Warnick legislation signed; will increase protections for state’s cattle industry

The governor signed Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation Friday that requires air-quality rules to treat cattle feedlots the same as other agricultural operations. Senate Bill 5196 extends the exemption to feedlots while establishing a process and guidelines for addressing activities that may be detrimental to the environment.

“Other agricultural activities are exempt from these kinds of regulations, so this adjustment to state law makes sense,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake, who chairs the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee.

“The state is still ensuring best practices to keep our environment clean and providing a transparent process when a violation occurs, but this compromise legislation balances the rights of our cattle producers with environmental concerns.”

Cattle operations still must adhere to state Department of Ecology rules regarding dust control. However, under the new law, violations must be clearly documented with evidence, setting a higher bar than current practice.

“We have cattle operations all around our state, and sometimes in arid areas cattle movements can be dusty,” said Warnick. “We know that impacts are temporary, but this law clarifies what should be done when a serious violation occurs and how to deal with them. The new law creates a good balance and protections for our well-meaning cattle-industry partners.”

The legislation received strong bipartisan support in the Legislature. The new law goes into effect July 22.