Ready or not, the new CAFO regulations are here. Now that the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation rules are set, it’s up to you to get your operation in compliance.

These regulations reinterpret the existing Clean Water Act and earlier Environmental Protection Agency policy, and imposes new effluent limitation guidelines and federal permit requirements on livestock CAFOs. (See “Is Your Operation a CAFO” on page 22.)

“We are anticipating the CAFO rule will provide significant environmental benefits,” says Jean-Mari Peltier, counselor to the EPA administrator. “We’re predicting there will be a reduction of 56 million pounds of phosphorus, 110 million pounds of nitrogen, and more than 2 billion pounds of sediment. There also will be other benefits, such as reduced air emissions from CAFOs.”

While some may disagree about the degree of benefits, one thing is certain, it will cost you more time and money to comply with the new regulations.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, this rule will require a large portion of existing pork operations to modify or upgrade their systems.

While most pork producers are already using innovative manure-management technologies, NPPC estimates the CAFO rule could lead to changes or upgrades in four major areas:

1. A thorough review and possible reworking of an operation’s nutrient management plan to ensure it complies with the new rule, particularly with regard to phosphorus management.

2. Modifications to manure land-application practices to accommodate the new emphasis on phosphorus management and setback requirements.

3. Possible upgrades to manure storage and handling facilities to accommodate changes in land-application practices.

4. More complete and detailed recordkeeping throughout many stages of your operation.

One benefit of the new rule is that it provides flexibility for producers to use innovative manure-management technologies. There’s also flexibility built in for phosphorus and nitrogen standards, which will be site specific based on state guidelines.

In essence, these rules provide a federal baseline and level out the playing field for U.S. livestock producers. But many states already have more stringent environmental standards, such as Iowa and Minnesota, that will remain.

“The new CAFO rules are workable and are compatible with the 2002 Farm Bill’s environmental initiatives,” says Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation president.

While Stallman believes the rules balance various interests, and lean toward site-specific rather than one-size-fits-all solutions, he says that AFBF does have some concerns.

“We believe that land application restrictions on spreading manure and other nutrients go beyond the reach of the federal Clean Water Act,” says Stallman. In addition, he says the lack of an exemption for discharges caused by rare and severe storms will be troublesome for producers.

Although the new rules don’t go into effect until 2006, states will have one year from the effective date of the final rule (probably March 15, 2003) to update their programs. Any state that has to update its program through the legislature will get an additional year.

Purdue University professors, Don Jones, agricultural engineering, and Alan Sutton, animal science, say that Indiana’s Confined Feeding Operation rules adopted last year already meet many of the new federal regulations.

“The federal CAFO rule will require more detailed management on the handling, storage and land application of manures than what is currently occurring,” says Sutton. “This will cost producers more time and dollars to comply with the new permit requirements.”

EPA officials estimate the final rule will cost the pork industry $35 million annually. For all livestock industries, the bill could reach $326 million a year. What’s more, the added costs could force some producers out of business.

Originally, EPA estimated that 285 existing CAFOs – including 204 pork operations – would go out of business. Another 1,391 livstock operations could experience moderate financial stress, of which 470 are pork operations. Peltier says this number will probably be lower because the original estimates didn’t take into account any financial assistance to producers, such as the Environmental Quality Initiatives Program.

For information on the CAFO rules, to contact your   regional EPA office or state permitting authority, go to  www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule 

Don’t Delay Your EQIP Application

With the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation rules in place, it’s time to start applying for Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds.

Although the CAFO rules were toned down from the original proposal, they will still pose a challenge for any pork operation designated as a CAFO. Environmental Protection Agency officials estimate there are about 16,000 CAFOS, of which, 5,400 are pork operations.

According to Jean-Mari Peltier, counselor to the EPA administrator, each farming entity can receive a maximum of $450,000 in EQIP funds. The 2002 Farm Bill allotted $5.8 billion for EQIP, of which, 60 percent is designated for livestock producers.

Keep in mind, however, with federal and state governments facing budget cuts, the allotment could change. It’s in your best interest to start the application process with your local USDA service center immediately.

To learn more about available funding and for sign-up information go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/

Editor’s Note: Look for more comprehensive information about the new CAFO recordkeeping requirements in the March issue of Pork.

Is Your Operation a CAFO?

Many of you can answer yes to that question, while others will need some assistance to determine whether your pork operation meets the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operationcriteria.

You can do this by calling your regional Environmental Protection Agency office or your state permitting authority. You can find the phone numbers at the following web address: www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule.

Here’s a breakdown of the EPA guidelines to help determine if your pork operation is a CAFO.

Your operation is an Animal Feeding Operation if you confine animals for at least 45 days in a 12-month period; and there’s no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season.

Whereas, your operation is a CAFO if:

  • It meets the definition of an AFO and one of the following CAFO definitions:
    • A) Your operation is a large CAFO if it has at least:
      • 2,500 swine (each weighing 55 pounds or more.)
      • 10,000 swine (each less than 55 pounds.)
    • B) Your operation is a medium CAFO if:
      • A man-made ditch or pipe carries manure or wastewater from your operation to surface water, or
      • Your animals come into contact with surface water running through the area where they’re confined.
      • And your operation has at least:
        • 750 swine (each weighing 55 pounds or more)
        • 3,000 swine (each less than 55 pounds)
    • C) Regardless of your operation’s size, it may be designated a CAFO if your permitting authority finds that it’s adding pollutants to surface waters.

If your operation is a CAFO, you must apply for a permit. The specific permit requirements will depend on whether your operation is a large, medium or designated CAFO.

Here’s a look at the specific permit requirements for all swine CAFOs:

  • Implement a nutrient management plan.
  • Submit annual reports to your permitting authority.
  • Keep your permit current until you completely close your operation and remove all manure.
  • Keep records of your nutrient management practices for at least five years.

You also must have a nutrient management plan for all swine CAFOs. The plan must include these provisions:

  • Assuring adequate manure storage capacity.
  • Proper handling of dead animals and chemicals.
  • Diverting clean water from the production area to a holding area.
  • Keeping animals out of surface water.
  • Using site-specific conservation practices.
  • Developing ways to test manure and soil.
  • Appropriate use of nutrients when you spread manure.
  • Keeping records of your nutrient management practices.

Keep in mind that your permitting authority has the ability to set additional requirements for any size CAFO.

If you do have a large swine CAFO, here are some requirements for nutrient-management plans.

  • A) Production area:
    • Design your production areas to contain all of your CAFO’s manure, plus the runoff from a 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event (large storms.) Overflows from large storms are allowed only if your operation is designed and operated to meet those specifications.
    • Install depth markers in liquid-manure storage units.
    • Inspect production areas weekly and water lines daily.
    • Correct any problems you find as soon as possible.
    • Ensure proper dead-animal disposal.
  • B) Manure land-application area:

    • Apply manure at rates that meet your permitting authority’s standards.
    • Analyze manure for nutrient content at least annually.
    • Analyze the soil from your land-application fields for phosphorus amounts every five years.
    • Avoid applying manure to any land within 100 feet of surface water.
    • Periodically inspect land-application equipment for leaks.
  • C) Transferring manure to other persons:
    • Keep records for at least five years that include the date, recipient, amount and nutrient content of the manure transferred.
    • Information about the nutrient content of your manure must be given to the recipient.