Large livestock production facilities create air quality conditions that can result in ominous clouds of protest or favorable breezes that bring economic gains for the community. The purpose of this CAST Issue Paper is to go beyond the generalizations and accusations often associated with the air quality topic. Led by Larry Jacobson, a team of experts from six universities examined a large amount of data and focused their information and conclusions around the key livestock areas: swine, poultry, dairy, and beef. The resulting paper, Air Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A North American Perspective, is valuable for stakeholders, the public, and policymakers as they deal with the challenges inherent with something so basic and important: air quality.

Their science-based analyses look at a wide scope of issues including the following:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • The logistics of manure storage facilities
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts to monitor emissions
  • Economic implications
  • Mitigation technologies and management practices

Compliance to existing and new regulations is being met through a combination of new mitigation technologies and management practices depending on the animal species, location of the producers, and economics of the industry. Many of these mitigation technologies are site and specie specific, but several, such as diet manipulation, are common to all animal species. The goal is to use science-based information to help all stakeholders involved in animal production protect the environment and public health in a proactive manner and avoid costly litigation to solve nuisance suits or enforce regulations. This paper examines ways to help all stakeholders involved in animal production as they strive to preserve resources and maintain the quality of life.

Dr. Larry Jacobson, Professor and Extension Engineer at the University of Minnesota, chairs the Task Force of notable scientists and researchers. Dr. Jacobson has been heavily involved in air quality research, and since 2001 he has been project leader for a six-state air emission monitoring project that measured gases, dust, and odor from commercial pig and poultry buildings. He has also been a Visiting Professor at research projects in several European countries.

The other five Task Force members also have extensive experience, and the resulting Issue Paper gives readers a solid base of scientific information. As the authors state, “Historically, environmental concerns and regulations of animal agriculture have focused on water quality. In the past 15 to 20 years, air quality issues associated with the livestock and poultry industries have become a growing concern for the public, leading to increased attention on enforcing air quality regulations for animal agriculture and new multimedia regulatory efforts.”

The full text of Air Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A North American Perspective (Issue Paper 47, 24 pp.) may be accessed free of charge on the CAST Web site at, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. The paper also is available in hard copy for a shipping/handling fee. CAST is an international consortium of 30 scientific and professional societies.  It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.