During the 2001 legislative session, the Agricultural Odor Management Act was passed. Since then a committee of industry representatives, legislators, dairy neighbors and representatives from several state agencies have been trying to agree on rules for the program.

Last year committee members were at odds over the problem. This year, all members agree there is an odor problem and are working together to develop solutions.

The Idaho Department of Ag is considering purchasing an olfactometry laboratory. That’s a machine that collects air samples in the field. And Ron Sheffield, University of Idaho odor expert, will work with the ag department to select five to eight people whose job it will be to smell those samples collected. Each will receive training on how to smell odors at different dilution levels.

Once the system is in place, Sheffield says that Idaho would be the first state to combine odor intensity with odor concentration to develop standards. The criteria used to judge whether or not odor is a problem will include: intensity, duration, frequency, offensiveness and health risk.

In addition to setting standards for odors, the Agricultural Odor Management Act:

  • Places enforcement in the hands of the Idaho Department of Ag.
  • Requires plans for a new or modified dairy lagoon be developed by a licensed engineer.
  • States that any dairy that generates odors “in excess of levels associated with accepted agricultural practices,” can be required to develop an odor management plan.
  • Fines any dairy found to be out of compliance. Dairies could receive a civil penalty and be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. If the odor problem persists, the ag department could also fine the operator up to $10,000.

The standards developed by the odor committee will be presented at the next legislative session for approval.