Animal Feeding Operations - Compliance and Enforcement
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Animal Feeding Operations Highlights
To help animal feeding operations comply with environmental requirements, EPA offers many types of compliance assistance and incentives. EPA is also responsible for conducting a federal regulatory enforcement program with respect to environmental requirements.
EPA has put together a series of answers to commonly asked questions to help livestock and poultry operation owners and operators understand what to expect from EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) inspections (PDF) (5 pp, 296k)
EPA Policy and Guidance
- 2012 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Final Rule
- National Enforcement Initiative: Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Groundwater
Compliance Assistance Information
- EPA Region 6, “Commonly Observed Violations at Dairy Feeding Operations”
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Compliance Monitoring
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Guidance Documents
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Rule History
- Clean Water Act Compliance Audit Program for Pork Producers
- EPA Office of Inspector General Report on Animal Waste Disposal Issues
- Information from EPA Regions
- Information from States
EPA Enforcement Cases
Clean Water Act Compliance Audit Program for Pork ProducersEPA and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) have agreed to a comprehensive Clean Water Act Compliance Audit Program (CAP). The NPPC, which represents pork producers nationally, plans to have independent auditors conduct more than 10,000 of the audits nationwide to improve environmental management practices and assure compliance with the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act CAP provides incentives for pork producers to undertake voluntary, comprehensive, on-farm environment assessments by greatly reducing penalties for any Clean Water Act violations that are promptly disclosed and corrected under this program.
This program was developed after the NPPC approached EPA to propose an environmental assessment program for the industry. The NPPC developed a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation process for reviewing pork production facilities that is designed to assure the protection of our nation's waterways by improving environmental protection controls at pork farms throughout the United States.
This compliance audit program is the result of an agreement between EPA and the NPPC that provides reasonable incentives for pork producers without compromising EPA's and the States' ability to enforce the law consistently and appropriately. The program demonstrates how government and industry can come together to find practical and resourceful solutions for reducing waste runoff into our nation's rivers, lakes and streams.
Voluntary Compliance Audit Program
- The CAP program is open to all pork producers in the country, but excludes slaughterhouses, pork processing and packing facilities, or areas of ancillary operations such as equipment or feed storage or cropland--other than cropland used for land application of swine waste. Participation in either the NPPC audits or the CAP program itself is voluntary.
- Producers with existing pork production facilities must register for the voluntary CAP Agreement by Sept. 30, 2001. For facilities that are completed after Sept. 30, 2001, producers must register by Sept. 30, 2003. Pork producers who want to register for the program can contact their local pork producers' organization or the National Pork Producers Council, at (515) 223-2600.
- These audits will be conducted by trained and certified independent inspectors at no cost to producers, and according to a comprehensive and public protocol. The program was developed by NPPC at a cost of $1.5 million with millions more to be spent on training assessors and overseeing the program. EPA has provided a $5 million grant to America's Clean Water Foundation to assist with the voluntary assessments.
- Participating pork producers must identify and report Clean Water Act violations within 120 days of the start of an assessment, and complete corrective action within specified timetables. For example, the CAP Agreement provides for 60-90 days for correcting operating and maintenance violations, and one year where additional waste storage or disposal capacity is needed.
- For a pork producer to be eligible for the CAP Agreement, the auditor must report that the audit was conducted properly according to the protocol. Producers must certify that the report to EPA is complete and accurate, and an auditor or licensed engineer must certify that the correction is complete.
- Producers that report and correct violations within the timetable and otherwise comply with the CAP Agreement are eligible for reduced penalties. Penalties are based on economic benefit, range from $1,000 to $10,000 for violations resulting in a discharged, and are capped at no more than $40,000 per facility. These penalties can be reduced further for early correction, and EPA retains flexibility under existing policies to waive them where circumstances require it.
- EPA will consult with any State to assure participating pork producers have complied with the terms of the CAP Agreement. A State may elect to administer the CAP Agreement; in those cases, EPA would refer any CWA violation disclosures to the State for consideration and response under the terms of the CAP Agreement.
- The NPPC will award special seals to pork producers who have the voluntary environmental assessment performed, and promptly report and correct any CWA violations discovered. The seal may be withdrawn if a pork producer is found to be in violation of the CWA.
- This CAP is limited to Clean Water Act violations, although States may wish to adapt it for other requirements.
- The CAP Agreement would not apply to violations already discovered by EPA or a State, or which are the subject of a citizen suit action.
- Reduced penalties are available only for those violations that are reported and corrected under the CAP Agreement. The program reserves EPA's ability to pursue injunctive relief when there is a discharge and where there is an "imminent and substantial" endangerment under section 504 of the Clean Water Act, and reserves EPA's ability to recommend prosecution for criminal conduct. EPA may impose penalties and seek all other available remedies where a pork producer fails to comply with the CAP Agreement. The program does not relieve the producer from its obligations to comply with all CWA permits, regulations and other applicable environmental laws and regulations.
- This environmental auditing and enforcement program will help protect the public health and the nation's rivers from waste runoff. Corrective measures will be taken to address discharges and other National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations.
- More than 10,000 pork production facilities, including most of the large pork farms in the U.S., are planned to have on-farm assessments. Audited farms are likely to account for about 80 percent of U.S. pork production.
- The CAP program potentially exceeds what EPA has the resources to do otherwise, and will disclose violations that EPA may not have discovered otherwise.
- The program brings facilities within the regulatory system and potentially provides important information on facilities. The program will educate pork producers about corrective measures to address violations and prevent future violations.
- For additional information about the Pork Producers Clean Water Act Compliance Incentive Program, contact EPA Headquarters Water Enforcement Division at (202) 564-2240. For information about EPA's Audit Policy, contact Leslie Jones at (202) 564-5123, firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPA Office of Inspector General: Report on Animal Waste Disposal IssuesIn July 1995, animal waste from an eight-acre lagoon in North Carolina burst through its dike, spilling approximately 22 million gallons of animal waste into the New River. The spill was twice the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Information related to this and five other spills occurring in the summer of 1995 were reviewed to determine what actions the state took before and after the spills, and to determine what EPA could do to reduce the possibility of animal waste spills in the future.
Summary: North Carolina is the number one meat-producing state in the nation. For hogs alone, the animal waste produced for disposal is an estimated 9.5 million tons per year. In the summer of 1995, North Carolina experienced six spills from animal waste lagoons totaling almost 30 million gallons. North Carolina has not issued any National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to livestock or poultry facilities. Nationwide, only 30 percent of the estimated 6,600 operations meeting concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) size requirements have been issued NPDES permits (although not all are required to have permits).
North Carolina, which was delegated NPDES authority in 1976, has had a no-discharge state program for animal feeding operations (AFOs) that has been stricter than federal regulations. For example, before 1993, state regulations set requirements on hog facilities with 250 hogs, whereas federal regulations are not automatically applicable until the facility has 2,500 hogs weighing an average of 55 pounds. In 1993, the state started strengthening its animal waste management program by requiring facility registration and certified animal waste management plans.
As a result of the animal waste spills in 1995, the state further strengthened its animal waste management program. Additional requirements included permitting, stricter lagoon construction requirements, annual inspection requirements, certification of operators of the waste management system, and citing requirements for the animal feeding operations. The permitting system requires an animal waste management plan, which state personnel call the "backbone" of the permit system. The plan establishes the individual requirements for a facility including nutrient management. The improvements in the state's program are due to the state's efforts, involving several different state offices, with significant assistance from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA. EPA was not significantly involved in this effort.
Even with its efforts to strengthen its animal waste management programs beyond federal requirements, North Carolina experienced problems with these programs, including the spills cited previously. Twenty-two states, by law, cannot adopt environmental program regulations that are more restrictive than the specific requirements in federal regulations. Therefore, should any of these states experience problems similar to North Carolina, they will neither be able to readily strengthen state environmental regulations to prevent future occurrences, nor can they rely on federal regulations to provide this protection.
Land application, nutrient management, specific facility
construction, and waste system operator training and certification are
critical elements of North Carolina's animal waste management and regulatory
program. Federal regulations do not address these elements, but the regulations
allow NPDES permits to include land application procedures where the land
application is a necessary part of the animal waste management system.
EPA encourages including the remaining elements. Permitting helps ensure
that the critical elements of a good animal waste management system are
adhered to. Permitting also enhances compliance efforts. Under existing
regulations, when inspecting an unpermitted facility, the inspector may
be able to take expedient action only upon observing a discharge from
"Pollution prevention first" is an Agency strategy. The goal for the CAFO program should be to prevent a spill before it occurs. The permit can be the tool to help achieve that goal. Therefore, the Agency should maximize use of current permitting authority. Current regulations allow permitting authorities (federal or state) to designate an AFO as a CAFO on a case-by-case basis if the operation is a significant contributor to pollution of waters of the U.S. Permitting authorities must complete an on-site inspection that considers factors such as size, location, vegetation, rainfall and other elements that affect the likelihood or frequency of discharge prior to designating a CAFO. The designation process may be time and manpower intensive; however, it offers a measure of protection that otherwise would not occur.
Information from EPA RegionsTo determine which region applies to you, please visit Where You Live.
Region 5 - Contains AFO Sector Profile, EPA contacts, Federal and State program information, and technical and financial assistance information
Region 6 - Contains contact information, access to the CAFO database, permit references, and permit inspection forms
Region 7 - Contains contact information, where to register CAFO complaints, and information on permitting and inspection programs
Region 9 - Contains general information, EPA efforts in the states, tools and techniques, laws, terms, and contact information
Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center - offers innovative manure management resources and programs from across the country.