Dairy Farmers Oppose Senate Bill Imposing Arbitrary Size Limits

Published on
April 26, 2023

Salem, Ore. – Oregon’s dairy farmers strongly oppose a proposal moving through the Oregon Senate that would place arbitrary and unnecessary size limits on family farms, endangering their future and Oregon’s economy.

Senate Bill 85 prohibits the Oregon Department of Agriculture from issuing Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits to farms that exceed a certain number of animals. The bill moved today from the Senate Committee on Natural Resources to the Senate Rules Committee, keeping it alive past the first Chamber deadline on April 4.

This misguided moratorium would create an alarming ripple effect throughout the dairy community in Oregon, causing a shortage of locally produced dairy products such as milk and cheese, job lossesand a detrimental economic impact.

Oregon already has some of the highest environmental and animal welfare protections in the country – standards that dairy farmers are proud to meet. Our producers have a history of being key partners, ensuring Oregon remains a leader in agricultural practices that prioritize animals, employees and their communities. 

“This bill arbitrarily targets our responsible and law-abiding producers; it takes us down a damaging path that will simply make future policy conversations impossible,” says Tami Kerr, executive director of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association. “Our policymakers must use facts, not hyperbole, to make decisions. Now is not the time to put our farms and farmers at risk.”

Oregon processors rely on a steady and stable supply of milk from local dairies to meet the growing nutritional needs of the state, country and globe. These processors, which represent everyone from artisanal small businesses to household names in Oregon, should not be unnecessarily restricted from producing the milk, cheese or ice cream that many Oregonians love and depend on.

"Our region's food companies cannot provide the quality local products Oregonians want if farm and ranch families are subjected to these kinds of arbitrary and unnecessary limitations,” says Dave Dillon, president of Food Northwest, the leading advocate for member food processors in the Pacific Northwest. “Pushing food production out of Oregon threatens the availability of local food choices and takes regulatory oversight out of Oregon's hands." 

Oregon dairy farmers want the same things as all Oregonians: clean air, clean water and healthy communities. They are serious about their responsibility to operate with respect for their employees, their animals and their communities. Today, dairy farmers produce 19% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 30% less water than farmers 10 years ago and continue to make advancements every year.

The industry has farms of all sizes, conventional and organic, with different management models. It’s not their size that matters, but their values and commitment to animal welfare and environmental impact.

As SB 85 continues to make its way through the legislative process, ODFA is hopeful that continued conversations with all parties can lead to an effective policy that does not set a dangerous precedent for Oregon’s farmers.

About ODFA. Oregon Dairy Farmers Association has been the voice for Grade A licensed farmers around the state since 1892. We represent farms of all sizes, including small and large dairies, organic and traditional producers as well as other industry partners. For additional information on Oregon dairies and our commitment to healthy animals and environmental stewardship, visit www.oregondairyfarmers.org.