Environmental Issues Updates for Feedlot and Dairy Medium CAFOs

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Angie Rieck-Hinz, Rachel Klein, Beth Doran, Shawn Shouse, Clint McDonald, Kris Kohl, Chris Mondak, Denise Schwab,  Russ Euken, Jenn Bentley, Larry Tranel, Joe Lally -  Program Specialists Serving the State

Contact: Angie Rieck-Hinz, Extension Program Specialist
2104 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
amrieck@iastate.edu;  515-294-9590
Serving the state.

Your Position


POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­__x__ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­__x__ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­__x__ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship
_____170 Pesticide Applicator Training
_____180 Other ANR Programs

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­___x_Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Title of Success Story

Environmental Issues Updates for Feedlot and Dairy Medium CAFOs

Continuing Story

____ No                __X___  Yes (If continuing, what story?)
This success story is the beginning of a three-year project to address environmental concerns for small and medium feedlots and dairies.

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Desired Changes

Learning: Increase awareness and knowledge of small and medium-sized feedlot and dairy operators, their advisers, and agency personnel to better understand recent EPA compliance actions against these types of livestock operations and how producers can meet compliance that protects water quality.

Action: The ultimate is to have producers rectify the discharge or animal contact situation, if it exists, so the livestock operation is not classified as a medium-CAFO, or to apply for a NPDES which would allow them to discharge under certain circumstances.   Either action could reduce nutrient impacts on water quality

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Livestock producers in Iowa have seen a progression of regulations and compliance enforcement throughout the past two decades.  Awareness through Extension meetings and information put out by commodity groups has played a substantial role in bringing confinement feeding operations and large CAFO feedlots into compliance.  For small to medium-sized feedlots and dairies that may or may not be classified as CAFOs, the education and outreach was not formalized prior to the EPA beginning their recent compliance reviews.  This issue surfaced because of EPA interpretation of regulations and the subsequent impact on livestock producers.  The message from EPA was not well defined and still remains a challenge for both livestock producers, extension personnel, and agribusiness (advisers) and agency staff.

The desired change was to increase awareness and knowledge of this sector of livestock production in Iowa so that they could 1) continue to operate their farms and be in compliance with state and federal regulations and 2) protect water quality resources.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

A total of seven workshops were held, three in NW-W Iowa at the end of March 2011 and four in NC-NE-E Iowa at the end of June 2011.  A total of 383 people attended the seven workshops and received materials about current regulations, manure management and resources, including technical and financial assistance.


RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

Of the 383 people who attended, 179 completed a post-workshop evaluation.

169 respondents (94%) indicated they have a better understanding of the criteria, including numbers of animals and discharge definitions that might imply their operation is a CAFO.

172 respondents (96%) reported they understand the definition of a man-made device carrying feedlot runoff

109 (61%) reported they had traced runoff from their feedlot or dairy to see if it reached a water of the state, whereas 22% had not traced their runoff, and 15% said it did not apply

163 (91%) responded they now had a better understanding of the records that need to be kept.

161 (90%) reported they now know where to find resources for technical and financial assistance.

Only 3% of respondents said they would apply for a medium-CAFO permit, whereas, 21% indicated they would not apply for permit, 51% reported they are unsure if they will apply for a medium-CAFO permit, 6% reported this did not apply, and 18% did not respond.

This suggests that the workshops have raised awareness and have initiated thinking of how they can be compliant and improve water quality.

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

The citizens of Iowa benefit from improved water quality.  The conditions that changed include 1) removing animals from contact with waters of the US, and 2) reduced runoff of manure nutrients and sediment from feedlots.

Major Partners or Collaborators

Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers; Accu-Steel Building Solutions, Inc.; Brinkman Ag Solutions; Jacobsen-Westergard & Associates, Inc.; Natural Fertilizer Services; Nutrient Advisors, LLC; Pro-Ag Engineering; Twin Lakes Environmental Services, LLC; Western Iowa Dairy Alliance; Three Rivers Consulting; Cargill Animal Nutrition; PHX Construction; Maurer-Stutz, Inc.; Ag Resources Management; Southern Minnesota Agricultural Services.

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Statewide (7 locations)

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

ISU Extension and Outreach;  Exhibitor Sponsorship; User Fees


CAFO,  manure, nutrients, water quality


Page last updated: February 9, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick, jhoneick@iastate.edu