Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: March 7, 2007

Senate Approves Measure Classifying Animal Waste as Nonhazardous

Classifying animal waste as nonhazardous is critical for the State of Oklahoma and its livestock industry. That's according to Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, author of Senate Bill 709 which declares manure as a nonhazardous material.

"This bill is critical to the State of Oklahoma because we have such a large livestock industry. It’s approximately a $5 billion industry,” said Justice, R-Chickasha. “If this were to be classified as a hazardous material then it would not only affect all of the livestock producers but it would affect people all across the state.”

He went on to explain that it could also negatively impact those people raising organic produce, because those fruits and vegetables would be grown with a hazardous material and would themselves then have to be classified as hazardous products.

Due to the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding the legislation, the bill was amended to include a definition of manure that was agreed on by representatives from the Attorney General's office, the Governor's office, various agriculture groups and the Department of Environmental Quality. Under provisions of the bill, manure is defined as any feces, urine, or other excrement from livestock and would include nonhazardous bedding, compost, or raw materials mixed with the excrement as well as any process water associated with the excrement or materials.

Answering questions about the impact on the state’s rivers and lakes, Justice explained that manure is made up of three elements – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium – all of which are plant nutrients; and if manure is used properly, it should stay in the soil and not end up in the state’s rivers and lakes.

“I don’t think that by declaring this as a nonhazardous material would have any detrimental affect on the clean waters of our state,” said Justice. “If it’s used properly, if you use best management practices and by that I mean they’re using the product according to the recommended rates just like we would use any other fertilizer, then those nutrients would cause the grass to grow more efficiently and, therefore, put a better buffer zone to hold back any erosion that would contaminate the lakes and rivers.”

Under the measure, individuals could still have manure classified as hazardous if they felt there were elements in the product that were hazardous, but it would be on a case by case basis.

“This is simply to classify the materials so that if there are problems with it, if there are elements in the manure that someone believes are hazardous, then we can deal with those on a specific basis,” said Justice. “But it would protect the product so that it can be used, because to classify all animal waste as hazardous would have severe implications for our state.”

Although the measure passed by a vote of 38-8, a motion was made by Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, to reconsider the vote. He will have three legislative days to ask for reconsideration of that vote. If the bill is not brought up for reconsideration or if the original passing vote is reaffirmed, the bill will nexmove to the House of Representatives.

For more information contact:
Senator Justice's Office - (405) 521-5537