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Ag Center Fact Sheet

EPA 305-F-03-009
May 2003
The National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center

Animal Agriculture
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations -
Livestock Operation Inspection

What To Expect When EPA Inspects Your Livestock Operation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspects livestock facilities to make sure the operators comply with federal environmental laws. Note, EPA may conduct inspections even in States that are authorized to administer (including issuing permits) federal environmental laws. Poorly managed livestock operations can pollute rivers, lakes, estuaries, and groundwater. Where pollution occurs it is most often caused by runoff from feedlots, spills from lagoons, and problems caused by incorrect land application of manure. This fact sheet explains what you can expect during an EPA inspection. It tells you what a typical inspector will be looking for and what may happen afterwards. Not all inspections are the same. Yours will depend on what kind of operation you have and on EPA’s reason for conducting the inspection.

The EPA inspector
The person who inspects your operation on behalf of EPA will be an EPA employee or a trained, capable contractor hired by EPA to gather information for the Agency. In either case, he/she will show you identification to confirm that the visit is authorized.

EPA is not required to, but may provide advance notice that an inspection will be conducted. In fact, unannounced inspections allow the inspector to better observe routine site conditions and practices.

Purpose of the inspection
EPA conducts two primary types of inspections of animal feeding operations (AFOs):

The EPA inspector’s goal is to gather enough information to determine if federal environmental laws or permit requirements are being followed.Is your facility an AFO or a CAFO?
Generally, an operation is defined as an AFO under federal regulations if:

The inspector will gather information to help EPA judge whether your operation meets the qualifications of a CAFO, should be designated as a CAFO, or is classified as an AFO.The revised regulations, published February 12, 2003, state that a large CAFO is an AFO with at least:

Your operation is a medium CAFO if:

And your operation has at least:

EPA (or States/Tribes where authorized) may also designate an operation as a CAFO if the inspection determines that the operation, regardless of its size, is a significant source of pollution. This determination considers a number of factors including slope, vegetation, and the proximity to surface waters.

If you have any questions about the inspection or enforcement process, contact your inspector or EPA regional office.

Does your CAFO comply with the law?
If your facility is a CAFO, you must apply for a permit. A limited number of large CAFOs may be able to avoid a permit application if they can demonstrate “no potential to discharge.” The term “no potential to discharge” means that there is no potential for any CAFO manure, litter, or wastewater to be added to water of the United States from an operation’s production or land application areas, without question.

For operations defined as CAFOs prior to April 14, 2003, you should already have a permit. If you do not have a permit you should contact your permitting authority and apply immediately.

Operations defined as CAFOs as of April 14, 2003 that were not defined as CAFOs prior to that date should seek a permit as specified by the permitting authority but no later than April 13, 2006.

For newly constructed, or expanding facilities, or for designated CAFOs, consult your permitting authority for applicable time frames.

During an EPA inspection of a permitted CAFO, the inspector will check for compliance with the requirements of the permit. The inspector will examine mainly your manure management systems and any areas where manure is applied to fields.

For all facilities, the inspector will make sure that manure has been managed, handled, and applied in accordance with your permit requirements. These requirements allow for overflows in some cases and discharges from land application areas where manure has been applied in accordance with your permit (see “For More Information” below). For unpermitted CAFO facilities, no discharges are allowed.

Animal Health Concerns
Inspectors know there is a potential that they could pass animal diseases from one feeding facility to another. To minimize that risk, the inspector will follow biosecurity procedures appropriate to your facility. Before the inspector enters the confinement area, let the inspector know of any contagious disease your animals have, any biosecurity procedures you follow, and discuss with the inspector any concerns you have about the effect of the visit on the health of your animals.

The inspection
Most inspectors begin an inspection by writing down some basic information, such as:

You may be asked if you have a state or federal permit and, if so, what it includes. You may be asked if you have filed a Notice of Intent to be covered under a CAFO general permit (if applicable).

Under the February 12, 2003 regulations, CAFO permits will require the operation to meet certain conditions, including implementing a nutrient management plan, submitting annual reports, and keeping records.

The inspector will invite you to accompany him/her on the inspection. It is a good idea for you to go with the inspector, take notes, and ask questions. The inspector will take notes and record the latitude and longitude of your facility so it can be plotted on a map. He/she may also take photographs, video recordings, and water samples.

To help determine whether your facility is a CAFO or should be designated as a CAFO, you may be asked for basic facility information such as:

To determine whether your facility has had a discharge or if there are factors present that could lead to future discharges, you may be asked specific questions including:

The EPA or contract inspector generally will not be able to tell you whether violations were found. These decisions are made by an EPA compliance officer who reviews the inspection report.

Confidential information
During the inspection, you may be asked to give business information that you do not want the public to be able to get from EPA’s files. If so, you may make a claim of confidentiality. For EPA to uphold your claim, you will need to show that the information, if made public, would reveal trade secrets or should for other reasons be considered confidential. The confidential parts of the report can be kept from public view. (Some information is not eligible for confidential treatment by law.)

Possible Actions
If you are found to have violations, there is a range of possible actions EPA can take depending on factors including the number and seriousness of the violations. Possible actions include:

State permits
EPA has authorized most States to administer the federal NPDES permitting program. In addition, States may have their own, non-federal permit requirements or other legal requirements for CAFOs. Your EPA regional contact can help you find the appropriate state contact.

Self disclosure of violations
Through its Audit Policy and Small Business Compliance Incentives Policy, EPA encourages you to voluntarily disclose and correct violations. If you meet policy conditions, you may be eligible for penalty reductions and waivers and other benefits. The Small Business Policy is for companies with 100 or fewer employees. You may obtain copies of these documents from the Ag Center or on the Internet.

Compliance assistance contacts

Technical assistance contacts

For more information
This fact sheet provides only a general overview of how EPA inspects livestock operations. To learn more about EPA or state requirements and how they may apply to you, read the federal and state regulations or contact your EPA regional office or state government.

EPA’s publications, “Will My Operation Be Regulated?” (EPA 833-F-02-006) and “What Are the Federal Record-Keeping and Reporting Requirements?” (EPA-833-F-02-013) provide more detail on how CAFOs are defined and what is required of CAFOs.

To order these and other CAFO-related publications, call the Ag Center’s toll-free number, 1-888-663-2155, or visit the publications page on the Ag Center Web site. All publications are available by mail, and some can be downloaded from the Web site. For a complete publications list, request document 10001, “Ag Center Publications.”

If you are a small business, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance offers a fact sheet on Small Business Resources that can provide a variety of compliance assistance tools to assist you in complying with federal and state environmental laws. This fact sheet is available through the Ag Center; please ask for document number 50017, “U.S. EPA Small Business Resources.”

The Ag Center welcomes comments on this document and its other services.

National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center
901 North Fifth Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
Toll-free: 1-888-663-2155
Internet: www.epa.gov/agriculture

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