New CFO and CAFO Rules Mean Operational Changes

US - Indiana's new regulations aimed at keeping confined animal feeding operations environmentally friendly will require producers to change record-keeping and manure management practices, from Sunday (1 July).
calendar icon 28 June 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

Last fall, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved revised rules that altered the environmental management requirements of confined feeding operations, called CFOs, and concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs. Indiana defines a CFO as "any animal feeding operation engaged in the confined feeding of at least 300 cattle, 500 horses, 600 swine or sheep, or 30,000 fowl, such as chickens, turkeys or other poultry."

All CAFOs are classified as CFOs, but CAFOs house more animals and have previously had more stringent regulations and permit application procedures. Under the new rules, CAFOs have the option to continue to have CAFO permits or assume general CFO permit status, said Purdue Extension nutrient management specialist Tamilee Nennich. Operations that would like to maintain their CAFO permits will need individualized permits approved by IDEM.

Operators with individual CAFO permits will be required to create nutrient management plans accessible to the public. Additional record-keeping also will be required. For example, farmers will need to keep records of daily inspections.

Potentially of greater concern are new rules specific to CFO operators regarding winter manure application and soil phosphorus.

Under the new regulations, manure application on frozen and snow-covered ground is no longer permitted, Nennich said. There are exceptions for emergency situations. Operators can apply for special permits that allow for winter application if a farm was previously permitted with less than 120 days of manure storage.

The new CFO rules also require that farmers apply manure to their fields on the basis of the soil's phosphorus content. Previously, manure was applied to fields based on soil nitrogen content and nitrogen needs for the coming crop.

New regulations require that soil phosphorus not exceed 200 parts per million by 2018. That means that over the next six years, farmers will need to continue to monitor soil phosphorus concentrations and work to begin the very gradual process of reducing the phosphorus content of their fields.

When the new rules go into effect on 1 July, CFOs cannot apply manure to soil with phosphorus levels higher than 400 parts per million. Nennich said the potential risk of water pollution is one of the biggest concerns pertaining to high phosphorus levels in soils. While she believes the concern is justified, she said the new rules fail to account for the variance between fields. The risk of phosphorus water pollution is not the same for every farm.

"It's going to remove some acreage people have been using for manure application and increase the cost for manure removal and application," Nennich said.

Nennich said producers need to make sure they understand what the new rules mean for their individual operations.

She encouraged producers to plan ahead for the winter and keep records to show compliance with the regulations.

Nennich also noted that new information will be needed in operating records.

"We really encourage producers to go through and make sure they understand the changes in their permits and work hard to make sure they are protecting the environment with their operations," she said.

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