Odor and Nutrient Management Newsletter

Summer 1999

Unified National Strategy for animal feeding operations

by Paul Miller, manure management specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

photoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed a Unified National Strategy to address the effects of animal feeding operations on water quality and public health. The Unified National Strategy (often referred to as the AFO/CAFO Strategy) is part of the Clean Water Action Plan.

Animal feeding operations are defined as agricultural enterprises in which animals are raised in confinement. It is estimated that there are more than 350,000 animal feeding operations in the United States. Iowa is home to approximately 40,000 animal feeding operations.

The final animal feeding operation strategy, released by the USDA and EPA on March 9, 1999, reflects comments received during a 120-day public comment period as well as issues raised during 11 national "listening sessions."

The strategy encourages owners and operators of animal feeding operations to develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans to minimize water pollution from confinement facilities and land application of manure. The comprehensive nutrient management plans must be technically sound and economically feasible. They also must be site specific to complement the operationís total resource management objectives. The following components should be part of a comprehensive nutrient management plan:

    • Feed Management: The effect of animal diet and feed rations on nutrients in manure.
    • Manure Handling and Storage: Divert clean water; prevent leakage; provide adequate storage, manure treatment, and dead animal management.
    • Land Application of Manure: Manage manure based on crop nutrient balances and timing and methods of manure application.
    • Land Management: Conservation practices to control erosion and runoff.
    • Record Keeping: Soil and manure testing, records of quantity and use of manure.
    • Other Use Options: Other uses of manure, such as sales and composting, when land application is limited.

For approximately 95 percent of animal feeding operations, the strategy is voluntary. The strategy is administered locally and includes environmental education and financial and technical assistance programs to help producers develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans.

The remaining operations, for which the strategy is required, are those designated as concentrated animal feeding operations. Those operations must have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. Concentrated animal feeding operations are those with the following specifications:

    • More than 1,000 animal units (1,000 beef cattle; 700 dairy cattle; 2,500 finishing hogs or sows; or 100,000 chickens). Iowa has 1,650 operations that meet this classification. In the United States, 10,000 operations meet this classification.
    • More than 300 animal units and pollutants being discharged into navigable waters through a ditch, flushing system, or other artificial device; or pollutants being discharged directly into waters that pass through the facility or come into direct contact with the confined animals.
    • Operations of any size in which the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit-issuing agency determines, after an on-site inspection, that the facility is a significant contributor of pollution to the waters of the United States.

photoThe strategy addresses seven strategic issues and identifies actions to implement the strategy. Several organizations may implement these actions. They include the USDA and EPA, as well as state and local government entities, producers, integrators, livestock industry, private groups, and research and educational institutions and environmental groups. Electronic copies of the strategy can be downloaded from the "Current News" button on the Iowa Manure Management Action Group Web site at http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/immag/

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Iowa Manure Matters: Odor and Nutrient Management is published by Iowa State University Extension, with funding support from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service through Cooperative Agreement No. 74-6114-8-22. To subscribe or change the address of a current subscription, write to Angela Rieck-Hinz, 2104 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011-1010 or call 515-294-9590, fax 515-294-9985 or email: amrieck@iastate.edu. Please indicate you are inquiring about the Odor and Nutrient Management Newsletter. The newsletter's coordinators are Angela Rieck-Hinz, extension program specialist, Department of Agronomy, Wendy Powers, environmental extension specialist, Department of Animal Science, and Robert Burns, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; the editor is Jean McGuire, the subscription manager is Rachel Klein, the production designer is Beth Kroeschell, and the web page designer is Liisa Jarvinen.

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