In general, a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is a very large Confined Feeding Operation (CFO) that requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) System for discharges or potential discharges of water contamination.
However, any animal production unit, regardless of size, that has had a significant pollution discharge or plans to treat manure and discharge treated effluent that meets state water quality standards may be required to obtain an NPDES discharge permit and is defined as a CAFO.
In the federal rule of 2003, CAFOs were required to obtain a permit if the operation housed at least 1,000 beef cattle, 700 mature dairy cattle, 1,000 veal calves, 2,500 swine (over 55 lbs), 10,000 swine (less than 55 lbs), 500 horses, 10,000 sheep, 55,000 turkeys, 125,000 chickens (dry systems), 82,000 layers (dry system), 30,000 ducks (dry system), 30,000 chickens or layers (liquid system), and 5,000 ducks (liquid system).
As a result of a recent court ruling, however, revisions developed by the EPA rescinded the requirement to apply for an NPDES permit based solely on animal numbers. As of January 2007, approximately 620 of the 2260 CFOs in Indiana were defined as CAFOs.
This past week the Fort Wayne Farm Show was held at the Coliseum and with a slight twist in presentation of information. Clint Nester, program manager for the St. Marys Watershed Initiative, addressed water quality near livestock facilities, including CFOs and CAFOs – a topic that does not sit well with those who own and operate these polluting facilities. He has no doubt that livestock affect the quality of water, particularly in the area of E. Coli distribution. The more densely packed livestock operations are, the higher E. coli levels are likely to be in nearby waters.
During his session at the farm show, Nester showed findings from water-quality tests performed at about 20 points in the St. Mary’s watershed, which includes parts of Allen, Adams and Wells counties. In the St. Mary’s watershed, the area of densest animal operations and lowest water quality is in central Adams County, between Berne and Monroe. Whether the measure of water quality is fecal bacteria, nutrient loads or amount of suspended sediment, the areas where the most livestock is raised is where water quality is worst.
In Indiana, according to IDEM, the percent of total permitted production operations by species in Indiana are as follows: 70% swine (a la Mitch Daniels), 8.3% beef, 8.1% dairy, 6.9% chickens, 6.6% turkeys, .04% ducks and .03% sheep. Certain areas in Indiana have a significant concentration of confinement operations. The numbers of CFO operations are highest in Carroll, Clinton, Wabash, Adams, Decatur, Daviess, and Dubois counties. CAFO operations are highest in Kosciusko, Wabash, White, Carroll, Jay, Randolph, and Dubois counties.
This year, once again, our legislature has the opportunity to take action to protect our state and its environment. And once again, I have to wonder whether our legislators will buckle to Daniels’ ever-present and destructive goal of turning Indiana into one big CAFO. The distribution map below shows he is certainly on his way to his goal of doubling pork production within the next few years.
Daniels has little respect for our Hoosier environment as has been shown by his abolition of the enforcement division of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. This year our legislature needs to get some guts and pass laws regulating CAFOs and stop Daniels from his destruction of our Indiana environment.
Map of livestock distribution in Indiana
Photo Credit: Purdue University