Proposed EPA rule changes address livestock feeding operations
by Angela Rieck-Hinz, Department of Agronomy
In January 2000 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new proposed rule to address animal feeding operations. The changes are the result of lawsuits filed against the EPA and the need to revise current regulations so that they more clearly reflect technological changes in the livestock industry. The current rules are more than 25 years old.
The current effort in Iowa to bring open feedlots into compliance with state regulations (see article on pages 12) is a different issue. The current state regulations are functionally equivalent to current EPA regulations. The newly proposed regulations will be the driving force for future implementation of state regulations. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), under the authority of the EPA, is responsible for implementing state as well as federal regulations governing animal feeding operations.
Newly proposed regulations will affect open lots as well as confinement systems, all species, and potentially smaller livestock operations than are currently regulated in Iowa. Listed below are a few of the proposed rule changes.
Proposed change to definition of concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The EPA has proposed two alternative criteria, two-tier or three-tier, for defining CAFOs. Two-tier structure establishes which livestock operations are defined as CAFOs based on size alone. The EPA has proposed to lower the threshold from the current 1,000 animal units to 500 or 750 animal units. Facilities with less than the threshold animal units may become CAFOs if designated by the permit authority. The three-tier structure is very similar to the current structure but requires the middle tier animal feeding operations to either apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit or certify that they do not meet any of the conditions that would require them to obtain a permit.
Change to definition of co-permitting. The EPA is proposing that permit authorities co-permit entities that exercise substantial operational control over CAFOs along with the owner or operator of the facility.
Proposed changes in land application of manure from CAFOs. Several changes are being proposed by the EPA that concern land application of manure. Currently, land application of manure is not considered a discharge and therefore does not require a permit for the field. The EPA is proposing to change the stormwater exemption such that permit exemptions would apply to a field only if the manure were applied at a proper nitrogen or phosphorus application rate.
Permit Nutrient Plans will be required to be developed and implemented by all CAFO operators. The Permit Nutrient Plan will be a site-specific plan that describes how the operator intends to meet the effluent discharge limitation and other requirements such as manure application rate, manure sampling, soil sampling, and manure application equipment calibration.
The EPA is considering establishing regulations prohibiting manure application on frozen, snow-covered, or saturated ground. They also are requesting input on requiring the use of erosion control practices on land receiving manure to reduce the amount of manure and sediment from leaving fields and entering water bodies. In addition, the EPA is soliciting comments regarding the economic viability of these rules and the impact of compliance on livestock operations.
These are just a few of the many changes in the proposed rule. It is anticipated that the earliest this rule would become effective would be 2003. All producers are encouraged to submit comments regarding these proposed rule changes. They must be sent to the EPA and postmarked by July 30, 2001. Please send an original and three copies of your comments to the address listed in the box.
For more information about the proposed changes to the CAFO rule, including a copy of the rule, the supporting documents developed to support the rule changes, and a fact sheet, visit the CAFO page on the IMMAG Web site at http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/immag/afocafo.html or call 515-294-9590. In addition to links to the EPA material, you will find local information developed specifically for Iowa produces, including a guide for making comments developed by the College of Agriculture and Iowa State University Extension.
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Page last updated October 5, 2004
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