Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Releases New Rules for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)

Maurice Eastridge

On December 16, 2002, the Federal EPA released the new revisions to the Clean Water Act for CAFO. To be considered a CAFO, an operation must first meet the definition of an animal feeding operation (AFO). An operation is an AFO if animals are confined for at least 45 days in a 12-month period and there is no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season. The CAFO then are categorized as large or medium CAFO. A large dairy CAFO is a dairy AFO with at least 700 dairy cows or 1000 dairy heifers. A medium dairy CAFO is a dairy AFO with at least 200 dairy cows or 300 dairy heifers and either a man-made ditch or pipe carries manure or wastewater from the operation, or the animals come into contact with the surface water running through the area where they are confined. Regardless of the size of the operation, if an AFO is allowing pollutants to surface waters, it may be required to file for a CAFO permit. A CAFO permit requires that you meet certain conditions for the production area (area where animals are housed and manure is stored) and the land application areas. Permits will require you to implement nutrient management plans, with these records needing to be maintained for five years, and submit annual reports to the permitting authority. The permit requirements will be much more strict for large than medium CAFO. Under the new rules, all CAFO will be required to apply for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which will require the development of plans for handling, storing, and applying manure and wastewater. This new requirement, nullifies the previous exemption for a CAFO from applying for a NPDES permit if they only discharge during large storms (25-year, 24-hour storm event). In Ohio, the authority to issue permits to a CAFO is with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, 614-387-0470, FAX 614-728-6335, lepp@odant.agri.state.oh.us, . The Ohio EPA has the authority to issue NPDES permits (Division of Surface Waters, 614-644-2021). For more information about the new Federal CAFO rules, go to: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/cafofinalrule.cfm. The Ohio Livestock Coalition has set up two meetings, along with ODA and Ohio EPA, to discuss issues about these new regulations: January 21, Fisher Auditorium, Wooster, 7:00 pm; January 22, auditorium of the Lake Branch Campus of Wright State University, St. Mary's, 7:00 pm.