Washington dairy penailized for manure spill
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has cited Pomeroy Dairy in Custer, Wash., and fined it $6,000 for a manure spill last fall. A Notice of Penalty was issued last week; the dairy has 30 days to seek an appeal.

On Oct. 17, 2013, Whatcom County Public Works officials notified WSDA of a possible manure spill into California Creek. A WSDA inspector contacted nearby Pomeroy Dairy, which confirmed that a discharge of manure had occurred the previous day.

The Notice of Penalty issued by WSDA alleges that the problem was an underground pipe used to transfer manure. The pipe was supposed to be out of service, but had become filled because of a malfunctioning valve near the dairy’s manure lagoon. When the line filled, manure was discharged from a vertical pipe, or riser, that was broken. That manure reached a nearby ditch that is a tributary of California Creek.

 The spill raised fecal coliform levels in nearby California Creek in excess of established standards, violating the state’s Water Pollution Control Act. An analysis found elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria that exceeded standards as far as five miles downstream from the manure spill. An inspector also noted about 30 dead fish, some as far as 1.7 miles downstream from the spill.

As a result, Whatcom County Health closed the beach at the mouth of California Creek and the state Department of Health closed commercial shellfish harvesting in Drayton Harbor for one week.

Although the dairy immediately began work to control the manure spill, they did not report the spill, which delayed closure of the shellfish harvest and created a public health risk, a factor that increased the penalty. Another factor considered was the exceptionally high fecal coliform levels.

Washington’s Dairy Nutrient Management Act requires dairies to develop plans to manage the manure produced by their cows. WSDA’s Dairy Nutrient Management Program enforces this act and works with the state Department of Ecology to enforce parts of the state’s Water Pollution Control Act related to dairies.

WSDA inspectors with this program regularly visit the state’s 400 dairies to inspect manure containment and clean water diversion facilities, review records including soil tests, manure nutrient analyses, nutrient application and transfer records – all to ensure that manure is managed in a way that protects surface and groundwater from the discharge of pollutants including bacteria that can be harmful to human health and aquatic life.

Penalties paid to the WSDA Dairy Nutrient Management Program fund a grant account. The grants pay for research, education and outreach to benefit dairies in Washington state.

Source: Washington Department of Agriculture

Washington legislative update: B & O taxes
A public hearing to consider a Washington proposal to create a uniform state “business and occupation” tax rate on dairy and other agricultural businesses was held Jan. 21, according to Washington Dairy Federation government affairs director Dan Wood.

The hearing, conducted by the Washington state House Finance Committee, was held to get input on HB 2110, sponsored by Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland).

In an update to WDF members, Wood said the tax is levied on gross receipts, measured on the value of products, gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business. It does not consider costs of operating a business, with no deductions for labor, materials, taxes or other costs.

HB 2110 would more than double the dairy manufacturing B & O rate, from 0.138% to 0.2904% of gross revenue, Wood said. Other agricultural commodity manufacturing, such as grains, vegetables, fruits, renewable fuels and more would see a similar increase in the B & O tax rate applied to processing their products.

The fiscal note estimates the state would lose more than $8.8 billion in revenue by mid-2019 if the uniform tax is enacted, Wood said.  Yet certain sectors of agriculture, including dairy processing, would see a dramatic increase in taxes.

Source: Washington Dairy Federation, Washington Department of Reveue


WUD Dairy Leader Program accepting applications until April 4
April 4 is the deadline to apply for Western United Dairymen's California Dairy Leaders Program. Designed to train the next generation of California's dairy leaders, the leadership program consists of several sessions devoted to developing a better understanding of the economic, legislative, marketing, and environmental issues facing the industry.

The year-long program kicks off in the spring. Topics include environmental issues, the state and federal legislative process, dairy pricing and economics, biotechnological developments, marketing and promotion, and public relations skills. Participants will develop and enhance their leadership skills through communication, business etiquette, negotiation skills, time management, and team building workshops. Instruction will be provided by recognized experts in their field.
Eligible participants must be actively involved in milk production, be able to spend the necessary time in class, as well as studying resource materials, and be able to commit to visits to locations such as Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  The program application process this year is being opened up to individuals in allied industries.

Class enrollment will be limited to ensure one-on-one instruction. The program enrollment fee of $750 should be submitted with letters of recommendation. Further information is available by contacting Western United Dairymen at (209) 527-6453.

Application forms can be downloaded from the WUD website at www.westernuniteddairymen.com

Source: Western United Dairymen

 Washington ‘Dairy Days at the Capitol’ set
The Washington Dairy Federation’s “Dairy Days at the Capitol” will be held Jan. 28-29 in Olympia, Wash.

The event's activities begin Jan. 28, 5 p.m., with a Legislative Reception at Ramblin' Jack's Restaurant, Olympia.

The Dairy Day at the Legislature will be held Jan. 29, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and include presentations by Washington State Dairy Ambassador Erin Peek in both the Senate and House.

State and county Dairy Ambassadors will assist with handing out ice cream in the Rotunda from noon-2 p.m.

A reception will be held that evening at 5 p.m. at Ramblin' Jack's Restaurant.

Source: Washington Dairy Federation