Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


“Animal feeding operations (AFOs),” or, if large enough, “concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs),” have become increasingly concentrated in ownership, location, and quantity of animals since the 1950s. The Yakima Valley of central Washington is one area that has been subject to an influx of these industrial farms, raising health and environmental concerns for residents. Despite scientific evidence of potential harm, citizens have had difficulty enforcing air emissions regulation. The problem is twofold: the EPA is still working with the industry to develop a methodology for emission monitoring––the effectiveness of which remains unclear––and, assuming monitoring methods existed, the statutory framework provides numerous agricultural exemptions. State “Right-to-Farm” statutes further exempt some farms from liability under the common law. Nonetheless, this comment will demonstrate that nuisance, trespass, and/or negligence actions, if teed up correctly in light of the state Right-to-Farm statute, can operate to combat pollution from AFOs.

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