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As a result of a recent court ruling, however, revisions developed by the EPA rescinded the requirement to apply for an NPDES permit based solely on animal numbers.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


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Clean Water Act, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, Cruelty to Animals, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Industrial farms, Mitch Daniels, Soil Pollution, St. Marys River, Water Pollution and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marymary says:

    Interesting that Marion County and the surrounding counties are practically CAFO-free, according to the map.

    One thing that I really don’t understand is this. Mitch Daniels and others of his ilk keep talking about how we need an educated work force and how we need to attract better jobs. I don’t know too many educated people and progressive employers who would want to move here given the environmental degradation that is tolerated and even promoted at the highest levels of state government. The drive toward increasing the number of CAFOs and decreasing environmental regulation is the opposite direction of where Indiana needs to be headed.

  2. Ira says:

    We need to call and email our senators and representatives to stand up to Mitch and support the bills to protect our environment, but we also need to ask that they vote against the bill that would restrict all Indiana laws to be no stricter than federal laws.

    Bush has quietly made the federal law less strict on emissions. His Midnight rule leaves communities dangerously unaware about emissions from animal waste. The rule exmpts CAFOs from the requirement to report when they release unsafe levels of toxic emissions into the surrounding community.

  3. Marymary:

    I think Daniels keeps Marion County and the fast-growing counties surrounding Marion County CAFO free because he knows darn well the impact CAFOs have on soil, water, and air. He just doesn’t care about the rest of the state – we are subject to his exploitation.

  4. Ira:

    I think a citizen lobby day is held sometime in January or February (although it is getting pretty late now for January). If it is held this year, I am going to Indy to lobby.

    We definitely need to contact our reps to let them know how we feel. I am just amazed that the state doesn’t do anything and the counties don’t do much. In the meantime, Daniels plan to CAFOize Indiana is going ahead full steam.

  5. Marymary says:

    Maybe we should all move to Indianapolis. It strikes me that the map could be called “Where Not to Live”

  6. Marymary says:

    Have to say, that I’m not really amazed that the counties don’t do much–they are not equipped to. I used to work in a county health dept. Of all the inspectors, only one had a degree in environmental science, and most had no college degree of any type. The county was covered over doing the bare minimum of septic inspections, food establishment inspections, etc. Water quality issues were supposed to be handled by IDEM and not county health departments, anyway.

    This is just my speculation of course, but I believe that the agribusiness concerns such as Hormel, Smithfield, the Dutch dairy farmers who couldn’t have intensive operations in Europe, etc., were looking for a hospitable environment when CAFOs became controversial in states such as North Carolina and Iowa. Low and behold, there was Indiana, with weak environmental regulations, a department of environmental management not-so-jokingly called “It Doesn’t Even Matter,” a nuisance law that they could tweak to make it almost it almost impossible for residents near CAFOs to sue, and a gubanatorial candidate who didn’t give a damn about the environment. Daniels got in, and the agribusiness concerns got exactly what they wanted. They were ready to swoop in soon after he was elected the first time.

  7. Mike H says:

    One of my mom’s neighbors must have 309 swine or less in North Adams to not make the map…. I guess four large buildings hold less than I would think. I didn’t realize Jay and Randolph were so busy.

  8. Search the Web on says:

    I believe the western side of LaGrange county has many more large poultry facilties than this map indicates. There are also other swine and dairy cfos and cafos not shown here. As a Purdue grad, I would like to think Purdue has a more up to date map indicating numbers and locations.

    I’ve tried to locate a similar map on the IDEM website and haven’t be able to locate one. The figure given a couple years ago by IDEM was 2200 facilities. This map doesn’t indicate that many.

    Charlotte, we need to get them fess up to what the state really looks like now that Mitch has worked so hard at his goal and devastating our environment.

  9. Ira Johnson says:

    I know you had to go by what you found for a count on cafos in Indiana, but I counted the cafos between Shipshewana and LaGrange area on two roads as I came and went today. On a road about 6 miles long, there were eight and another road had two within a couple miles. I know of 6 other large buildings belonging to a single company that isn’t on the map, either. Purdue’s map is really off.

    Keep making the point that these are really bad for our environment. In addition to the day lobbying in Indy, we need to email and call on a regular basis during this session.

    Keep up the good writing.

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