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

FAFF rallies defense of CAFO setback rule

Local activists are asking supporters to defend industrial agriculture restrictions in Linn County after County Commissioners voted to revisit a recently-passed policy, claiming it was approved in error.

Farmers Against Foster Farms sent out an email May 24 encouraging residents to submit written feedback during an upcoming public comment period from June 11 to 18.

At issue is a Dec. 12, 2023, update to count code establishing a1-mile setback between residential buildings and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

This was in accordance with SB 85 passed last year in Salem which empowered counties to set such limits for new and renewed CAFO permits.

FAFF was a strong proponent of SB 85 and the December update to county code, vocalizing concerns about recent efforts by farmers to establish industrial-scale chicken ranches in the region.

On May 14, commissioners voted unanimously to reconsider the setbacks after stating they were unaware the rules applied to all types of CAFOs and not just poultry farms, according to the Albany Democrat-Herald. 

Commissioners said they were not aware until individual farmers and groups such as the Oregon Farm Bureau brought this to their attention, reported the Democrat-Herald.

One such group, Colorado-based AGPROfessionals, criticized the setback rule as contrary to Oregon’s “Right to Farm” protections and was a threat to local farmers and ranchers.

Commissioners said they don’t believe the same setbacks should apply to all livestock given the differences in how chickens, cows, pigs and the like are raised. 

Commissioners indicated they were willing to amend the policy rather than repeal it, reported the Democrat-Herald.

FAFF said May 24 commissioners should not be focused on the species of livestock but the potential harmful impacts of “mega-farms” on local residents and communities. 

It said the 1-mile setback rule should stay in place “to address specific threats to our property values, farms, businesses and rural quality of life here in Linn County.”

“With increasing pressure from out-of-state and international interests to buy up and develop Oregon farmland for large factory farms, it is critical to have strong rules in place like those adopted by Linn County in December,” said the FAFF release.

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