Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are pretty strictly regulated. They are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by state agencies. Here in Indiana, they are regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
Before anyone can start building a farm that fits the requirements for a CAFO, they need to go through an extensive application process. The application must include:
- Property maps including a soil survey map, a topographical map with all water supply and water intake structures, property boundaries, animal housing area boundaries, boundaries and owners of manure application areas, and the total acreage available for manure application.
- A farmstead plan including all existing and planned buildings, the number and types of animals that will be in each building, construction approval dates, public and private roads, water wells, surface water drainage patterns, property lines, and any residence on the site.
- The waste management system plans with detailed drawings. The waste management system must have at least 180 days of storage, taking into account animal waste (manure), expected precipitation, and water runoff that could enter the system.
- The manure management plan, including all procedures for soil and manure testing, plot maps of manure application areas, and any alternate manure management methods.
- The mortality management plan, or how the farm will deal with animals that die. This plan must show that there will be no rain, surface, or ground water that will come in contact with the mortality site, and there will be no run-off that could contaminate any nearby water.
This application is only valid for 5 years. The owner of the farm must submit a complete application every 5 years to renew the approval. The renewal application must be submitted at least 30 days before the original approval expires. If there are any changes on the farm (new buildings, more animals, land added) the farmer must submit an amendment to the application for approval.
The EPA can revoke the approval at any time if there are any violations of water pollution laws, or violations of anything in the original application.
In addition to a complete copy of the application and approval, the farmers must keep detailed records on hand. These records include:
- A ground water monitoring plan and records
- All soil and manure testing records
- A storm water management certification
- An emergency response plan with documentation of any spill and the response within the last 5 years
- Calculation of the minimum number of acres needed for land application of manure with copies of the land use agreements (rental or lease agreements if the land is not owned by the farm)
- Records of land application of manure for the last 5 years
- Any “emergency” land application of manure (in the case of too-full storage facilities; these applications are also regulated by the EPA)
- Records of any spray irrigation of land
- Monitoring of land application of manure
- Marketing (sale) and distribution (land application or transportation to another farm) records for manure for the last 5 years
- Maintenance documents on manure storage facilities
- Records of any maintenance of facilities on the farm
- All required permits
How many of us do soil testing before we put fertilizer on our lawns? Do you know the water runoff patterns through your property? What about where that water goes after it leaves your property? Could you quickly find the receipts from the last repair you had done to your home? What is your emergency response plan if your lawnmower leaks gasoline in the garage?
Farmers need to have the answers to these questions, and many more, ready at the drop of a hat.
Farming is about a lot more than just feeding animals or planting seeds. There is a lot of planning, monitoring, and record keeping that is part of the job. The regulations listed here apply to a medium-sized CAFO. The larger the farm, the more regulations they need to follow and the more records they need to keep. Smaller farms that fit under the size requirements for a CAFO are not nearly as tightly regulated as the larger farms.