5. Living with Agriculture
Klickitat County is largely an agricultural area. Much of the rural land is actively used for growing crops, feeding livestock, and providing lumber and mineral resources. The tradition of agricultural land used has preserved our County's open space for more than a century. Owning rural land requires a basic understanding of agricultural processes. There are a few things you need to know:
5.1 Importance to the Economy
The agricultural business is a very important aspect of Klickitat County and its economy. If you choose to live among the farms and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect County government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agribusiness neighbors. In fact, Washington State protects farmers and ranchers from nuisance and liability lawsuits. Klickitat County has also enacted a "Right to Farm" ordinance. Both enable the farms and ranches to continue producing food and fiber.
5.2 Working Around the Clock
Farmers often work around the clock, especially during planting and harvest time. Dairy operators sometimes milk without stopping and hay is often swathed or baled at night. It is possible that adjoining agricultural uses may unintentionally disturb your peace and quiet.
5.3 Land Preparation
Land preparation and other operations often cause dust, especially during windy and dry weather.
5.4 Controlled Burns
Fields and ditches are occasionally burned by farmers to keep them clean of debris, weeds and other obstructions; logging operations burn slash piles; grain growers burn stubble to help generate next years crops. This burning creates smoke that may blow in your direction as winds change.
5.5 Chemical Use
Chemicals (mainly fertilizers and herbicides) are used in growing crops. If you are sensitive to these substances, they may cause allergic reactions. Many of these chemicals are applied by low-flying airplanes that often fly early in the morning.
5.6 Noxious Weeds
Before buying land you should find out if it has noxious weeds. Landowners are responsible for the expense of controlling noxious weeds to prevent their spread. Some plants are poisonous to horses and other livestock.
Much of Klickitat County receives less than 17 inches of precipitation per year and without irrigation, grass generally only stays green in the spring. If you own farm animals it is important to know there is a limit to the amount of grazing the land can handle. The Klickitat County Cooperative Extension Office can help you with these issues.
5.8 Domestic Farm Animals
Domestic farm animals can be dangerous to strangers. Dogs, cattle, horses, pigs, goats, ram sheep, etc. can attack human beings and other animals without warning. Children need to know that it is not safe to enter areas where unfamiliar animals are kept.
5.9 Stray Dogs
Those who live in rural settings are expected to control family dogs or other pets that trespass onto the property of others and cause damage to livestock or farm operations. Landowners can shoot stray dogs that are running or harassing their livestock.
It is generally understood in agricultural areas that farm animals produce manure, which can cause objectionable odors.
5.11 Open & Closed Range Laws
Klickitat County has both open and closed range law areas. You should know if it is your responsibility or the responsibility of the rancher or farmer to keep their livestock off your property.
5.12 Be Cautious
When driving, be aware that large, slow-moving farm machinery and livestock are often moved on County roads. If you come upon machinery, horseback riders or livestock in the roadway, please slow down; be courteous and patient as you pass.