Order May Impact Organic Poultry Operations

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued tentative Order # R5-2016-XXXX Waste Discharge Requirements General Order for Poultry Operations, which may impact organic poultry operations. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will be holding a hearing on December 5th and 6th in Rancho Cordova, for those that wish to comment on the proposed Order.

The tentative order impacts poultry operations within the Region 5 Water Quality Control Board, which includes Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, Plumas, Butte, Glen, Colusa, Lake, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, Napa (N. East), Solano (West), Sacramento, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Contra Costa (East), Stanislaus, Toulumne, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Kings, Fresno, Tulare, Kern, and very small portions of San Benito, San Luis Obispo counties.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture State Organic Program, some of the requirements under the order that may impact organic poultry operations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Order states that if the animals spend less than 20 percent of their aggregate time outdoors, that will allow producers to qualify for Low Threat designation requirements. However, operations that house birds almost entirely outside, such as pasture operations, are considered to be Full Coverage operations that must meet additional requirements beyond the Low Threat designation requirements.
  • The application of animal waste and other materials containing nutrients to any cropland under control of the Discharger shall meet the following conditions: For pasture operations or operations where animals spend more than an aggregate of 20 percent of time outdoors (i.e., the time-weighted average number of animals outdoors per day divided by the total number of animals at the facility is greater than 0.20), the stocking rate of birds shall not exceed one AU per one and one-half (1.5) acres of pasture.
  • Production area specifications: The outdoor animal confinement area, and manure/litter storage areas that do not meet criteria in Finding 4.a.iv, shall be designed and maintained to minimize standing water as of 72 hours after the last rainfall and the infiltration of water into the underlying soils.
  • State Anti-Degradation Policy: This Order establishes requirements and standards that will result in the implementation of Best Practicable Treatment or Control (BPTC) measures to limit the degradation caused by poultry discharges.

Read the information sheet prepared by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board on the tentative order for more information.