By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only


The great State of Idaho has almost three times as many
agricultural animals as it does people. According to the
2002 World Almanac, Idaho is home to 1,293,000 human
residents, 2 million dairy cows and cattle 275,000 sheep,
24,000 hogs, and 1.2 million chickens.

Humans use toilets, and their waste is treated. The animals
pollute their environment, and Idaho's House Agricultural
committee is considering legislation to deal with Idaho's
notorious odors.

The state song of Idaho is "Here we have Idaho."

They must sing that song in neighboring territories, for the
stench of animals leaves a perpetual smell that offends
bordering areas of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon,
Washington, and British Columbia.

Perpetual smell?

Idaho's stinky state motto is: Esto Perpetua (It is

America's "gem state" is no diamond in the rough. The gem in
question smells worse than sulfur. Yellow rose of Texas?
Nope. Yellow urea and nitrates of Idaho.

On Tuesday (February 26, 2002), Idaho's House Agricultural
Affairs Committee produced a tie vote on proposed tightening
of odor legislation. The heated hearing on the bill lasted
more than five hours. In other words, half of Idaho's
elected representives like that smell just fine.

What is stinky to some state representatives must be perfume
to others, particularly those with interests in the
agricultural sector.

Try to define the word "odor," as these men and women are
doing. A rose by any other name will still produce lovely
bouquets, while cow manure results in the same rottenness in
both Denmark and Idaho.

The proposed bill establishes fines of $1 per day per
"animal unit." Lobbyists are making it difficult for
committee members. This fight is splitting the legislature
in half, but the most poignant comment was made by
Representative Gary Young, R-Moscow.

"But I have driven through the Twin Falls area in the summer
and in the winter, and I would not want to live there. The
industry has either got to do something about this problem,
or the (agriculture) department has to. I tell you something
has got to be done."

I have a suggestion for these men and women of political

When I think of Idaho, I apply my vision of "Esto Perpetua"
to those wonderful Idaho potatoes. These veggies do not
stink. That is, until they exit from the multi-chambered
stomachs of Idaho bovines. So, grow potatoes. Grow veggies.
Retire those agricultural units, and retire the smells.

Until that bill is passed, I offer my advice to you all.
When taking that Olympic drive from Salt Lake City to the
Oregon border through Boise on route 84, keep your windows
closed and burn incense. This way, you will not be incensed
by Idaho's perpetual animal smell.

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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