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Herd of cattle

Manure Transfer
(Import or Export)

Transfer of manure to or from (import or export) your farm requires a Manure Transfer Agreement (aka, Manure Export Agreement) to be in place to satisfy the requirements of your Nutrient Management Plan. The Manure Transfer Agreement is a way to document the export of nutrients away from your farm, or import onto your farm. This is necessary in order to balance your nutrient budget. This documentation is important to ensure manure will be utilized properly without jeopardizing the objectives of your Nutrient Management Plan. This document can also be used when moving nutrients off of your farm to clarify that the party accepting the nutrients is the one who is responsible for their appropriate storage and use. 

There are two types of Manure Transfer Agreements. One is a general form for the import or export of typical livestock manures. The other is a form specific to the import or export of manure from a digester facility. The following two documents are fillable PDF forms. You can either print them and fill them out by hand, or save them to your computer and fill them out electronically. Be sure to put a copy in your Dairy Nutrient Management Plan so that it can be readily accessed during your WSDA inspection.

General Manure Transfer Agreement, 2011 (PDF)
Digester Manure Transfer Agreement, 2011 (PDF)

If you would like to receive manure and your field is not under a Dairy Nutrient Management Plan and/or is located within a critical area, it is recommended that you work with WCD to create a simple Farm Plan (including a detailed field map, nutrient balance analysis, and crop plan) and document any imported or exported manure. CLICK HERE to be redirected to our small farm planning page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to have a Transfer Agreement for every person I export manure to?
A: Yes. Each unique field owner or operation requires an individual MTA. If you are exporting manure to multiple fields owned by the same person, you only need one agreement, but that agreement will list all fields where manure is applied. Additionally, the MTA specifies the length of time the agreement will remain active, so only one MTA is required to someone you regularly transfer to.

Q: Do I have to have a MTA for a leased/rented field included in my NMP?
A: You do NOT need an MTA if the field is in your NMP and under your operational control (registered with FSA). If the field is in your NMP but not under your control, you MUST have an MTA in place.

Q: Do I need to have an MTA if I want to import manure?
A: You do not need to have an MTA to import manure, though you should still track the quantity and type of manure in your records for your nutrient budget. It is the exporters responsibility to have the MTA in place with you. You should know that if the field you are applying manure to is located next to an area that qualifies as a critical area as specified in the Whatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance, you DO need to have a NMP for that field. If you do not have an NMP, you need to adhere to the 100 foot setback distance from all critical areas as outlined in the CAO. If you are applying the manure to a field that has no adjacent streams or ditches, does not slope to a wetland or other critical area, and is not in a critical aquifer recharge area, you do not need an MTA.

Q: Do I need to have an MTA if I am exporting a small amount of manure?
A: Possibly. You must keep records of all transfer of manure from your farm. If you are exporting a small amount off farm, you need to list where, when, and to how many acres it went to. You do not necessarily need a MTA if it is a one-time occurrence, you do not need it to balance your nutrient budget, or it is to a non-dairy. If the export is a regular occurrence each year, or you have multiple small quantity exports, it is recommended that you have a MTA in place for each one.

Q: Do I have to have a Transfer Agreement if I am importing bedding made from manure solids?
A: No, a MTA is not required, but a NMP is. The import of manure solids onto your farm, even for use as bedding, is considered an import of nutrients and needs to be accounted for in your nutrient budget. If you have added bedding import since your last NMP update, call WCD to have your plan revised to include the new nutrient source.

Q: Do I have to have a nutrient management plan to receive (import) manure?
A: If you are a dairy, yes. If you are a non-dairy and are not located in a critical area, technically no, but it is highly recommended that you have a NMP. If you are located within a critical area as defined by the Critical Areas Ordinance, then yes, you do need a Small Farm Plan, field management plan, or NMP.

Q: Do I need to have an agreement in place for compost?
A: No. Certified compost can be received by anyone. The export of compost is regulated by the Department of Ecology and State guidance. The product must meet composting standards to be deemed compost; otherwise it is considered manure solids and may be subject to a MTA if exported. 

Q: I am importing manure from a dairy digester. Is there a special form for that?
A: Yes. If you are receiving solids for bedding, liquid manure, or any other product from a digester, you need a Digester Manure Transfer Agreement in place, which is different from the General MTA. Additionally, you need to have an updated NMP so that the exporting digester meets their solid waste exemption requirement. If you are receiving any product from a digester facility, and do not have an updated NMP, contact WCD to start your update process.

Q: Is it a regulation that I have an MTA for transfer of manure on my farm?
A: Yes. The transfer of manure from your livestock operation is regulated by one or more of the following federal, state or local laws:

  • Federal Clean Water Act (Title 33 USC Sec. 1251 et seq.),

  • State Livestock Nutrient Management Act (Chapter 90.64 et seq. RCW),

  • State Water Pollution Control Act (Chapter 90.48 et seq. RCW),

  • Whatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance (WCC Sec.16.16 et seq.)

Accordingly, all dairies, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”), or farms conducting agricultural activities within a critical or its buffer must have a NMP utilizing Natural Resource Conservation Service (“NRCS”) conservation practice standards to protect surface and ground water quality.  NRCS, WA Conservation Practice Code 633 (WASTE UTILIZATION) is applied where animal wastes (includes manure and bedding from manure solids) are utilized.  Since Whatcom is an area where surface and groundwater quality has been identified as impaired by nutrients or pathogens the following Code 633 criteria are specifically made applicable:


  • Where [manure is] to be spread on land not owned or controlled by the producer, the waste management plan, at a minimum, shall document the amount of [manure] to be transferred and who will be responsible for the environmentally acceptable use of the [manure].”

  • “[Manure] applied to land in areas with an identified nutrient or other [manure]-related water quality impairment shall follow criteria set forth in the Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Code 590”. 

For these reasons, every farm or business receiving manure under this agreement must handle the manure in the manner prescribed here and make the certifications set forth below.

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