Linn County Commissioners Reconsider Their Good Choices on Industrial Livestock Setbacks

Back at the end of 2023, the Linn County Commissioners were inspired by broad community support to take the reins and become the first county in Oregon to act on the power given to them in SB 85. SB 85 imposed a new requirement on new large CAFO applications that required them to get a land use compatibility statement from the county land use authorities as part of their application. This also gave the authority to the counties to impose conditions on that land use in the form of setbacks from surrounding properties that contained a residence, church, school, or other public building. These set backs are optional and the county has the authority to determine the specific setback distance (there is no minimum or maximum). Linn County chose to make history and require a 1 mile setback from property lines for a new large CAFO facility.

We want to emphasize that the setback that was approved late last year was done so at the request of the community. There were dozens of concerned community members present at the county commission meeting. Not a single person spoke out against this action at the public meeting and community members were from all walks of life: farmers, rural residents, concerned Linn County citizens, etc. The public meeting was posted in the required places, and everyone was free to attend.

Industry representatives from outside of this community learned about this landmark decision after the fact because it was covered by local news outlets, and celebrated by groups like FoFF and the local coalition Farmers Against Foster Farms. Now they are trying to get the commission to roll back the will of the people by pushing a fear driven, get big or get out narrative. Industry claims that this will harm the ability for business to thrive and to feed the community. This is not true. Industry groups want the county commission to reverse or revise this community-led solution because they don’t want other counties to hear about it and decide for themselves how to protect their air, water and soil resources from extractive, industrial agribusiness. We know that their concerns are meant to spark fear in agricultural communities, but this county requirement will not prevent Linn County from having a thriving agricultural economy.

There is also a variance procedure in place so if neighbors can come to an agreement and provisions can be made for everyone’s safety, this will not prevent facilities from expanding. This county requirement will only prevent giant industrial facilities from being built against the will of the community. 

This only applies to the largest tier of facilities. Only a very small fraction of facilities will even need to meet this requirement. The farmers that the industry groups have asked to come out to oppose this do not even have to comply with it. Farm regulation should be about risk management. Concentrated facilities with thousands of animal units in one place fundamentally pose a greater risk than smaller operations. It is common sense that a community would want to protect their natural resources (and ability to farm in the future) from the potential for a disaster. 


It is so important that the County Commissioners hear loud and clear that Linn County does not want to stay a target of industrial agribusiness. If you live in Linn County please take the following steps:

Come to the County Commission Meeting!

The commission is meeting on June 18th at 10am in room 200 of the Linn County Court House in Albany.  Come show your face to support this good work from the Commission and don’t let them overturn it. There will not be an opportunity to speak at the meeting BUT you can submit comments in writing beforehand.

Send in Written Testimony!

You can send a letter expressing your support for the setback policy. Comments need to be emailed to the staff contact person Alyssa Boles ( by 5:00pm on Monday June 17, 2024. We urge that ONLY Linn county residents send notices to the Commission. We want to make sure they know that their community supports the setbacks.  

If you have multiple people in your household, please have everyone submit testimony. Corporate ag lobbyists are working hard to negate the progress we have made in protecting our homes and farms from the threats of industrial-scale livestock operations. Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger has publicly said that she is planning to walk back her position because lobbyists from the industry and the Farm Bureau have been in touch with her. 

Here are some talking points:

  • If you are a farmer/rancher or have connections to agriculture, please make mention of that. 
  • Encourage the Commissioners to move forward with amendment that they voted on in December – a mile setback for new large CAFOs as defined by ODA;
  • While the issue before us now relates to chicken operations, in the future we could see similar threats of industrial-scale livestock operations moving into Linn County and siting next to residents. 
  • The county would be prudent to ensure that there are tools in place now to address a future proposed industrial scale livestock operation – poultry or otherwise – to ensure that the operation doesn’t negatively impact neighboring homes, businesses and farms. 
  • Remind the Commissioners that the county has a variance process to make exceptions for any special circumstance and that this variance process could be utilized to make exceptions to the setbacks.

Here is some recommended language for the comments, but please feel free to make it your own!


Linn County Commissioners:

My name is YOUR NAME HERE as and I live at YOUR ADDRESS HERE. I am a (mention connection to agriculture or community).

I am writing to ask that you maintain a mile setback from neighboring property lines for all Large CAFOs as defined by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. While the immediate threat to our homes and farms in Linn County are industrial-scale broiler chicken operations, it is plausible that in the future, other livestock corporations could attempt to move into Linn County to take advantage of our open space and water. 

The county would be prudent to put in place a process that allows for local control over the siting of these operations to ensure that neighboring properties, businesses and farms are not negatively impacted. 

Simply creating a setback requirement doesn’t prohibit the production of livestock at scale in Linn County. Instead it creates a new siting process that is mindful of our existing agriculture and the people who call our county home. The Linn county land use system allows for a variance process where exceptions to the setback can be made for special circumstances. That process could be used to consider a unique situation that might warrant that the setback be waived. 

Thank you, 

Your name and address