New CAFO Rule
in pdf format]
December 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency announced
its new rule governing how concentrated animal feeding operations
(CAFOs) are regulated. It is the biggest change in environmental
regulations the beef industry has seen at the federal level
since 1974, when EPA first implemented effluent limitation
guidelines for large livestock confinement operations.
420-page rule serves as the new “foundation” for all state-run
CAFO permitting programs, because individual state regulatory
agencies can create environmental regulations that are more
stringent than the EPA rule, but not less. Currently, forty-five
states are authorized to administer their own permitting programs.
Some states have already enacted many of the provisions included
in the new EPA rule, including requirements for nutrient management
plans and mortality management. Several states also require
operations with fewer than 1,000 head to register with the
state and apply for a permit. The new EPA rule will have nominal
impact on cattle feeders in these states.
CAFO Category - the “Medium CAFO”
more “animal units”
application areas are now a part of the CAFO
management plans and record-keeping are required
sampling and testing of waste and land application areas
inspection mandates for Large CAFOs
had originally proposed reducing the CAFO threshold from 1,000
animal units to something between 300 and 750 animal units—a
change favored by environmental groups but opposed by the
livestock industry. The final rule strikes a compromise between
the two groups by creating a new category of CAFO—the “Medium
CAFO.” To be designated as a “Medium CAFO,” an operation must
confine between 300 and 1,000 head of beef cattle or veal.
It must also either discharge wastewater through a man-made
ditch or pipe, or allow surface water to run through an area
where animals are confined. A facility with less than 300
head of capacity can only be considered a CAFO if the EPA
or state permitting authority specifically designates them
as such. “Large CAFOs” are those operations with more than
1,000 head capacity.
new rule makes no distinction between a veal calf and a mature
bull— both now equal one head. However, a cow-calf pair is
equal to only one head until the calf is weaned, at which
point they are considered two different animals.
application areas are now considered part of the CAFO. Fields
and pastures owned or controlled by a feeding operation that
are used for manure or wastewater application will now be
included in the CAFO’s permit. Any runoff of manure or wastewater
from fields will be considered a discharge unless the CAFO
can prove it followed sitespecific nutrient management practices
when applying the material.
CAFOs will need to develop a site-specific nutrient management
plan for their operation. The nutrient management plan will
describe how much manure and wastewater is generated, the
land available for application, and the record-keeping system
that is used to ensure that nutrients, such as nitrogen and
phosphorus, are not overapplied on fields. Manure and wastewater
must be tested annually for nutrient content. Results must
be given to any third parties taking the material offsite.
Soil samples from land application areas must also be collected
and analyzed periodically. The nutrient management plan must
be kept up to date and be available for examination by regulators.
Records must be kept on site for a minimum of five years.
feedlots will have to perform a variety of inspections under
the new rule, including weekly inspections of all stormwater
containment structures and daily inspection of water lines
carrying drinking and cooling water. Depth markers or depth
sensing devices must be installed in all lagoons, and must
will not have to determine if there is a hydrologic connection
between surface water and groundwater;
“co-permitting” system, which would have made packers with
captive supplies and feeders who retain ownership of cattle
jointly liable with the CAFO for how the manure and wastewater
is handled and applied;
change in the definition of an animal feeding operation
with the new rule will cost the livestock industry $335 million
per year, according to the EPA. Anticipating the financial
burden imposed by the rule, Congress increased funding for
conservation programs in the 2002 Farm Bill by $20.9 billion.
The USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP)
was authorized at $200 million in 2002 and is scheduled to
increase to $1.3 billion by 2007. Sixty percent of those funds
are earmarked for livestock operations. CAFOs of all sizes
will be eligible for EQUIP funds.
operations will have to meet the requirements of the EPA rule
before they receive a permit. Existing operations that are
already permitted will have to come into compliance when they
renew their permits. More information on the new rule can
be obtained at www.epa. gov/agriculture.