Summer 2008

New Legislation May Affect Producers with Animals in Open Feedlots and Confinements, Livestock Markets and NPDES Permit Holders

PRINT VERSION (pdf) Download the Summer 2008 issue of Iowa Manure Matters - Odor and Nutrient Management Newsletter in pdf format.

By Karen Grimes and Randy Clark, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

open feedlotThe 2008 General Assembly passed new legislation designed to bring Iowa laws into agreement with federal laws for livestock and poultry operations. These primarily affect animal feeding operations that could be required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. There were three major changes in the law.

The change most likely to affect Iowa producers is one that will require combining and counting all the animals of the same animal type category, as provided in federal law, regardless of housing type for purposes of NPDES permits. This means, for example, that a producer who has 550 beef cattle in an open feedlot and another 550 in a deep-bedded or other type of confinement (totally roofed) will now have to count all beef cattle together. In this case, the combined animals would be 1,100, more than enough to exceed the 1,000 beef cattle that would make the operation a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and potentially subject to NPDES permit requirements.

There are several unanswered questions about the impact of the legislation such as how close the two types of housing need to be in order to be combined as one operation. Another question concerns nutrient management plan (NMP) requirements if a facility previously submitted a manure management plan (MMP) for the animals in confinement. Those answers will become available as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) develops rules and seeks public input on those proposed rules.

However, producers are encouraged to review Chapter 3 of EPA’s Producer Compliance Guide for CAFOs at and then contact the DNR later this summer if they believe an NPDES permit is required for their combined operation. If a permit is required, the producer must submit a complete permit application to the DNR on or before December 31, 2008. A complete application includes developing an NMP and providing public notice through a newspaper of general circulation.

A second change will affect a relatively small number of livestock markets. Livestock markets that confine and feed animals for 45 days or more in a 12-month period could need an NPDES permit if the number of head fall within one of the federal CAFO thresholds.

Finally, if an open feedlot has an NPDES permit and wants to discharge after a large rain event as specified in the permit, the discharge would only be allowed if they are complying with all permit conditions, including the record keeping.

The new legislation can be viewed on the Iowa General Assembly Website, under House File 2700, Division 8, Animal Feeding, Section 143 to 148 or at  Most provisions become effective on December 31, 2008. However, a section requiring the DNR to develop an educational effort becomes effective on July 1.

More information about NPDES permits is available on the DNR Web site at


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