The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report detailing a study it conducted to examine the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to effectively regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

The report acknowledges that such systems can improve the efficiency of animal production, but says also may pose a risk to air and water quality if not properly managed. Using USDA data from 1982 through 2002, the GAO examined the

(1) Trends in CAFOs over the past 30 years,

(2) Amounts of waste they generate,

(3) Findings of key research on CAFOs' health and environmental impacts,

(4) EPA's progress in developing CAFO air emissions protocols, and

(5) Effect of recent court decisions on EPA's regulation of CAFO water pollutants.

GAO analysis estimates that CAFOs 230 percent during the 20-year period and expressed concerns regarding the amount of waste produced by such farms, as well as the clustering of large operations. The report also questions the validity of the on-going nationwide air-emissions study that EPA initiate, as a basis for developing air-emissions protocols.

The report recommends that EPA complete its inventory of permitted CAFOs, reassess the current nationwide air-emissions monitoring study, and establish a strategy and timetable to develop a process-based model for measuring CAFO air emissions. EPA partially agreed with GAO's recommendations.

Click here to view the entire report.

Source: EPA, Meatingplace