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February 12, 2003

Changes in EPA's CAFO rule mean more paperwork

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Indiana producers might be ahead of the game regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's new concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) guidelines, but that doesn't mean they won't have to make a number of changes, said a trio of Purdue University experts.

"There's going to be quite a lot more paperwork for farmers thanks to the federal rule," said Alan Sutton, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue. "Producers will also have to complete more activities to stay on top of the requirements."

Those activities are intended to help farmers become better environmental stewards, while others will make them better managers, Sutton said.

The federal rule will apply to nearly 400 of Indiana's largest livestock and poultry producers and to those who have documented manure spills, Sutton said. The regulation calls for documentation of weekly inspections of lagoons and outdoor manure tanks; repair work on problems; and land application information, along with the weather conditions the day before, day of and day after a manure application to a field. Those types of records aren't required as frequently by Indiana's confined feeding operation (CFO) rules.

"For the first time the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) rule encompasses the land where manure is being applied," Sutton said. "It encompasses more than just the production unit, waste facilities and potential discharges there. It also includes the management of the area that's producing crops and receiving manure."

The federal rule also mandates annual manure analysis from each animal source on the operation. The Indiana rule calls for tests every three years, Sutton said.

Sutton said changes and clarification of the NPDES permit program are a central part of the federal rule.

The NPDES program and Indiana's confined feeding operation requirements differ and will be confusing to many Indiana farmers, Sutton said. At present, producers who must obtain the federal permit must also have a state permit.

Adding to the confusion, the new federal rule calls for an annual NPDES report, while the permit itself is good for five years. Indiana has a whole different set of reporting requirements, Sutton said.

"In the case of our state permit, you have to submit a manure management plan every five years," he said. "Both the NPDES permit and our state CFO permit are active for five years. I think Indiana wants to have both permits start at the same time to simplify the permit process."

In order to continue the NPDES permit after five years, the producer must send in a letter of intent to renew along with additional information.

Indiana is working with the EPA toward approval of a "general" NPDES permit that would apply to producers in the animal industry. At present Indiana is able to issue individual NPDES permits to each producer.

"A general permit would certainly simplify things for producers," Sutton said.

Sutton said he thinks the EPA rule and Indiana's recently revised confined feeding operation rules can be compatible.

"The federal rule could have been a lot more rigid," he said. "It also helped that the EPA reviewed Indiana's CFO rules as they were developed. The dialogue between the two agencies minimized what could have been greater conflicts between the two rules."

Sutton is in a position to know. He and Don Jones, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, served on the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Confined Feeding Operation Task Force, the group that crafted the state's confined feeding rules that went into effect in 2002.

"The federal and state rules are fairly similar in many respects," Jones said. "Although, Indiana is much more stringent in the definition of spills and in some other areas."

The Indiana rule defines a spill as any discharge into state waters. That includes streams, ditches and other waterways. The federal rule defines a spill as a discharge into navigable waters.

The Indiana rule also is more stringent in its definition of a confined feeding operation. The number of animals that constitute a CFO, referred to as concentrated animal feeding operations by the EPA, is one of those cases.

In Indiana, a farm is considered a confined feeding operation when it includes at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, or 30,000 poultry, Sutton said. The EPA defines CAFOs as operations with at least 1,000 cattle, 700 dairy cows, 1,000 dairy heifers, 1,000 veal calves, 2,500 swine (that weigh more than 55 pounds), 10,000 sheep, 125,000 chickens (30,000 if a liquid manure system is in use), 82,000 laying hens (30,000 if a liquid manure system is in use), 55,000 turkeys, 30,000 ducks (on a dry lot system), 5,000 ducks (on wet lot system), or 500 horses.

"Almost five times as many producers are affected by Indiana's guidelines than those touched by the federal definition," Jones said.

Brad Joern, a Purdue Extension nutrient management specialist, and several of his colleagues are updating the Purdue Manure Management Planner so it will produce reports that meet both IDEM and EPA requirements. Joern said the program already does many of the things required by the updated rules. The program, intended to ease producers' paperwork burden, is available for download.

Producers still have time to comply with the new rules. Sutton said that in most cases the federally required manure plan doesn't have to be in place until December 2006. Unlike the comprehensive nutrient management plan, required for farmers to receive Environmental Quality Improvement Program cost share dollars through the farm bill, the EPA-required nutrient management plan doesn't have to be designed by a certified planner.

Writer: Kay Hostetler, (765) 494-6682, kjh@purdue.edu

Sources: Alan Sutton, (765) 494-8012, asutton@purdue.edu

Don Jones, (765) 494-1178, jonesd@purdue.edu

Brad Joern, (765) 494-9767, bjoern@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

Related Web sites:
EPA's Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation page
IDEM's Confined Feeding Operation page
Purdue's Animal Manure Solutions


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