Call to Action for Livestock Owners

A major issue has come up in the last couple of weeks in the County Council’s review of the Critical Areas Ordinance.

Per Whatcom County Planning and Development staff’s suggestion, the County Council has adopted wording that would require anyone who has more than one animal unit (1000lb) per three acres of grazable land to obtain a farm plan.

A steer, for example, often weighs over one thousand pounds, so two steers would not be allowed on three acres without a Farm Plan.

County staff and the Council seem to believe that most small or hobby farms will fit into this exemption category, but we believe that this ratio is unlikely to exempt very many animal farmers. We also believe that the 1 Animal Unit to 3 grazable acres ratio is overly restrictive. There is no way that one cow or horse will generate enough nutrients to overload even one acre of grazable pasture.

Farm Plans will be an extra cost for small animal farms and will discourage people from keeping livestock. They are also unnecessary where there are no problems with nutrient management and runoff into waterways.

We need to let the Council know this policy is overly restrictive and will affect many.

What can you do?

• Share this information with your neighbors and friends.
• Email the County Council at
• Come to the County Council meeting at the Council Chambers on Oct. 24. Tell them how this will affect you and ask them to remove this requirement.