When DeVries Family Farms opened two years ago their plan was to build a 4,400 cow dairy. At the time, they started with 3,000 cows but now that they want to complete their expansion, neighbors don’t agree.

The dairy, located near Moxee, Wash, must obtain a transfer of existing water rights to complete the project. The transfer would switch water use at the dairy from seasonal to year-round and from one part of the property to another. The state Ecology Department, which has already received a number of letters protesting the water-rights transfer, will probably take action on the request by Nov. 19.

The dairy's expansion plan was submitted to Yakima County planners last month. County planners still must issue a notice on the proposed expansion that would start a public comment period.

As part of the expansion, the DeVries family has requested permission to move an intermittent stream that runs through the dairy at least 500 feet to the south. The stream is considered an environmentally sensitive areas so a permit will be required.

Tom DeVries, who operates the dairy with brother, Dale, told the Yakima Herald-Republic that he knows the expansion will bring criticism from neighbors who have opposed the dairy since it was first proposed.
"We feel we are doing an excellent job and there is no reason why we can't put more cows there and continue to do a good job.”

However, neighbors have a different story to tell. They contend the dairy has not lived up to the conditions imposed when the county first approved the dairy. The neighbors cite several issues with manure-handling and water use being at the top of the list.

Yakima Herald-Republic