News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

State withdraws CAFO permit for J-S Ranch in Scio

State regulators have voluntarily withdrawn a permit for an industrial-scale chicken farm near Scio and have until Oct. 31 to either modify, reinstate or permanently rescind the permit.

On April 19, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) submitted notice of the withdrawal in a lawsuit in Linn County Circuit Court.

A jury trial had been set for May 13, which is now canceled.

At issue is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) permit issued May 26, 2022, to J-S Ranch, which plans to produce 3.4 million broiler chickens annually for Foster Farms.

With the permit now withdrawn, operations at the farm may not begin until a final decision is made.

The suit had been filed Oct. 4, 2022, by a coalition of environmental and farming advocates represented by lead petitioner Christina Eastman. They claimed the state failed to consider the impacts of surface runoff and ammonia discharge when approving the permit, and that J-S Ranch allegedly does not have the proper facilities to mitigate pollution.

ODA and DEQ have argued they followed proper procedure when approving the permit. On Jan. 25 they filed a motion for summary judgment in their favor. A hearing was held March 15 to argue the matter. Judge Rachel Kittson-MaQatish denied the motion April 1 after determining there were still facts to be decided by a jury.

Farmers Against Foster Farms, a Scio-based advocacy group and one of the petitioners in the suit, said on Facebook April 24 the withdrawal of the permit was “good news for our fight.”

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