The Senate Rules Committee passed a measure Wednesday declaring animal waste as nonhazardous. Sen. Ron Justice, author of Senate Bill 709, said the measure was necessary because not doing so would be detrimental to the agriculture industry.
“There is a real concern among the agriculture community that animal waste could be lumped in with nuclear waste. If that happened it would be devastating to the state and the industry,” said Justice, R-Chickasha. “I know that in the rural areas when you’re hauling livestock there are times when the manure spills out. We certainly don’t want too see having to rope off those areas and coming in to treat that material as hazardous. This is a practical thing – it’s just something we need to clear up before people misunderstand and misidentify.”
Justice pointed out that not having such a bill could also have a negative economic impact on the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas because of the large horse and livestock shows they hold annually.
Under provisions of the bill, the use of animal waste would not be affected.
“When we’re looking at animal manures we’re really looking at plant nutrients, and in a sense recycled plant nutrients because animals take in the plant nutrients and then the plant nutrients are left behind. We can utilize those plant nutrients - they’re valuable to the agriculture industry as a whole,” said Justice. “What we’re looking at in terms of usage is best management practices and if the producers across the state utilize those products whether they be in commercial fertilizer or plant nutrients or manure, then it’s still all the same, and it’s still of economic value to the producers in the state, the agriculture industry and ultimately the consumers here in the state as well.”
The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.