An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Laws and Regulations that Apply to Your Agricultural Operation by Statute

This is a general description of EPA’s requirements, and should only be used as a guide. Since rules and regulations may change use this information is a starting place to determine which regulations apply to your agricultural operation.

About these lists:

  • Programs applicable to the general public, common to multiple sectors, manufacturers of food products, and retailers may not be included.
  • Some requirements only apply after a threshold is reached [e.g., size, geographical location].
  • Many States have similar requirements to EPA’s but may be more stringent or broader in scope.

Check with your State and/or EPA Regional Office for more information. 

Clean Water Act (CWA)/Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

Program Area

Requirements of Farm

Type of Facility Applies To:

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Rule

Permit required or cease discharges.

Note: Animal feeding operations not required to obtain a NPDES permit may be regulated by state programs.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations that discharge to a water of the U.S.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Rule

Nutrient management planning

Large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations that land apply their manure.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Water Related Pesticides Rule

Permit Required

Applications of (1) biological pesticides and (2) chemical pesticides that leave a residue, in which applications are made directly to waters of the United States, or where a portion of the pesticide will unavoidably be deposited to waters of the United States irrigation ditches or other instances of pesticide application on, over, or near water bodies.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Stormwater 

Obtain a permit or coverage under a general permit prior to discharging stormwater. Stormwater discharges from construction activities (such as clearing, grading, excavating, and stockpiling) that disturb one or more acres, or smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale, are regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program. 

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Silviculture

Permit required for specific forestry activities

Rock crushing, gravel washing, log sorting, and log storage facilities

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production (CAAP) 

Permit required if meet specific conditions

Flow through, recirculating, and net pen systems that:

(1) produce more than 9,090 harvest weight kilograms (about 20,000 pounds of cold water fish (trout, salmon); or (2) produce more than 45,454 harvest weight kilograms (about 100,000 pounds) of warm water fish (e.g., catfish, sunfish, minnows) and that discharge either continuously or more than 30 days/year.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - Biosolids

Federal permit generally not required, but farms must directly meet regulatory requirements for pollutant limits, management practices, operational standards, reporting and other requirements.

Farm that land applies biosolids or that owns land on which biosolids are land applied.

Clean Water Act Section 404

Clean Water Rule

Permit for non-exempt activities

Discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.; COE makes permit decisions and jurisdictional determinations, with EPA oversight.

What the Clean Water Rule Does Not Do

Underground Injection Control

Submit injection well inventory information; must not endanger underground sources of drinking water

Farms operating injection well(s)

Small Drinking Water Systems

Total coliform, nitrate testing most likely. Surface water source would invoke other non drinking water regulations

Farms providing for human consumption (e.g., drinking, showering) from its own source to 25 people or through 15 service connections for more than 59 days/year

Oil Pollution Prevention

Report a discharge of oil that reach navigable waters or adjoining shorelines to the National Response Center

Any farm that has a discharge of oil that may reach navigable waters or adjoining shorelines

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)

Prepare and implement an SPCC Plan (see link for more information)

Farms that store, transfer, use, or consume oil or oil products depending on aboveground storage capacity and spill history. For more information on farm applicability, see: Farms Fact Sheet

Facility Response Plan (FRP)

Prepare an FRP and submit to EPA

Any farm/facility storing 1,000,000 gallons or more of oil and meets certain harm factors or storing 42,000 gallons or more and transfers oil to/from vessels.

For more information on these regulations, visit either the Clean Water Act (CWA) or the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) website. 

Top of Page

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Farming Practice Affected

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) – Pesticide Label

Follow label instructions to apply pesticide legally.

Crop and livestock production practices that involve pest control.

Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

Label restrictions that typically require protective clothing and engineering controls (ex: tractors with enclosed cabs and air recirculation systems).

Farms that use farm labor to mix, load or apply pesticides and any other activity that involves exposure to pesticides.

Certification and training regulations

Required training for farmers and/or their pesticide applicators that use ‘restricted use’ pesticides.

Pest control with the use of ‘restricted use’ pesticides.

Pesticide Storage

Pesticide Disposal

Follow label instructions for storing and disposing of pesticides and containers.

Storage and disposal of pesticides and pesticide containers.

EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Endangered Species Protection Program

Bulletins Live

Farmer must follow label requirements and county bulletin requirements.

Farms that require pest control on farmland that have endangered species habitat.

For more information on these regulations, visit the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) website.

Top of Page

Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Type of Facility Applies To:

Waste pesticides

Proper disposal of pesticide hazardous wastes

Farms that dispose of pesticide residues and rinsates off-site

Underground storage tanks

Meet design and technical requirements; report to state; recordkeeping; financial responsibilities

Farms with underground storage tanks with a capacity of more than 1,100 gallons of motor fuel. Farm and residential USTs and their associated underground piping holding less than 1,100 gallons of motor fuel for non-commercial purposes, tanks holding less than 110 gallons, tanks holding heating oil used on the premises, septic tanks, and other listed tanks are excluded from regulations.

Underground Storage Tanks that are not excluded must meet regulations related to design, construction, installation, notification, monitoring, operating, release detection, reporting to State or Federal regulatory agencies, owner record keeping, corrective action, closure and financial responsibility.

Used oil

Meet storage and transport technical requirements

Farms storing more than 25 gallons in underground or above-ground tanks Farmers who generate an average of 25 gallons or less per month of used oil from vehicles or machinery used on the farm in a calendar year are exempt from used oil regulations. Farmers exceeding 25 gallons are required to store the used oil in tanks meeting underground or above ground technical requirements and use transporters with EPA authorization numbers for removal from the farm.

Subtitle C hazardous waste

Proper handling of listed and characteristic hazardous

Farms that generate, transport, treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste

For more information on these regulations, visit the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) website.

Top of Page

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA/Superfund)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Type of Facility Applies To:

Release reporting-- Episodic or Continuous

Notify National Response Center of releases of any CERCLA hazardous substances that meets or exceeds its reportable quantity within 24 hours.

CERCLA Hazardous Substances - 40 CFR part 302.4 (47 pp, 414 K, About PDF
CERCLA Release Reporting Requirements - 40 CFR part 302.6 (3 pp, 199 K, About PDF)

NRC: 1-800-424-8802 or 202-267-2675.

The following categories are exempt from release reporting:

  • Normal application of fertilizers.
  • Application, handling and storage of a registered pesticide by an agricultural producer.
  • Natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquified natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel.
  • Petroleum products not specifically listed or designated as a hazardous substance. For example, gasoline or diesel fuel.
  • Federally permitted releases.
  • Air emissions from animal waste at farms.

Note:  EPA published a final rule on August 1, 2018, to amend the CERCLA release reporting regulations by adding the reporting exemption for air emissions from animal waste at farms.

Any farm.

Emergency response

Allow access to federal responders; hire contractor(s) for response/cleanup actions

Any farm handling CERCLA hazardous substances that has had or currently has a threat of a release that is determined to be an imminent and substantial danger to public health or welfare.

For more information on these regulations, visit the When Are You Required to Report an Oil Spill or Hazardous Substance Release website.

Top of Page

Clean Air Act (CAA)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Type of Facility Applies To:

Clean Air Act

Particulate Matter (PM) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS):  Some agricultural sources in PM10 nonattainment areas are impacted by PM10 standards to satisfy reasonably available control measures and control technologies requirements. PM2.5 SIPs will be due no later than April 2008.  In those SIPs, states will evaluate, on an area by area basis, whether there is a need to regulate PM 2.5 or PM 2.5 precursors from ag related sources.

Ozone  NAAQS:  Some agricultural areas are impacted by these standards which primarily deal with nitrogen oxides (NOX) and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions.  These have the potential to impact some animal production practices and have potential to impact pesticide application practices.  NOX emissions from stationary engines could be impacted by these standards and the corollary implementation rules.

Comply with your state's State Implementation Plan (SIP).  

Click here to determine if you are in a non-attainment area.  

Farms located in air “non-attainment” areas

Air Program/Asbestos: The Asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) is intended to minimize the release of asbestos fibers during activities involving the handling of asbestos. Accordingly, it specifies work practices to be followed during renovations of buildings.

Asbestos - Comply with requirements to minimize the release of asbestos fibers during activities involving the handling of asbestos. Comply with work practices to be followed during renovations of buildings.

Building renovation/demolition:

Renovations of buildings which contain a certain threshold amount of friable asbestos, and during demolitions of all structures, installations, and facilities (except apartment buildings that have no more than four dwelling units).

Title V Permit

The source must apply for a permit if aggregate of non-fugitive emissions of any regulated pollutant exceeds 100 tpy. Also, generally, sources that are major under Section 112, Section 302, or Part D of title I are also considered major under title V and required to obtain a title V permit.

Any stationary source.

In determining major source status, emissions from all operations at the farm must be considered, including stationary sources such as boilers and internal combustion engines but excluding mobile sources such as tractors.  For farms, fugitive emissions are not included in determining whether a source is major. Fugitive emissions are those "...which could not reasonably pass through a stack, chimney, vent, or other functionally equivalent opening."

New Source Review / Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit

The source must apply for a permit if aggregate of non-fugitive emissions of any regulated pollutant exceeds a certain threshold amount depending on the attainment/non-attainment status of the area and on the pollutant. This requirement applies to new sources as well as to major modifications of sources.

Any stationary source.

In determining major source status, emissions from all operations at the farm must be considered, including stationary sources such as boilers and internal combustion engines but excluding mobile sources such as tractors.  For farms, fugitive emissions are not included in determining whether a source is major. Fugitive emissions are those "...which could not reasonably pass through a stack, chimney, vent, or other functionally equivalent opening."

National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) – 40 CFR Part 63, subpart ZZZZ/Standards of Performance for Stationary Spark Ignition Internal Combustion Engines (New Source Performance Standards – 40 CFR Part 60, subpart JJJJ)/Standards of Performance for Stationary Compression Ignition Internal Combustion Engines (New Source Performance Standards – 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart IIII)

The engine must comply with this regulation if it is located at a facility whose emissions are at least 10tpy of one HAP or 25tpy of total HAP and if the engine itself is at least 500 HP.

Stationary or reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE).

Mobile Source Program

Producers are subject to various mobile source requirements, similar to other similar users/operators of highway and off-road vehicles, engines, equipment, and fuel.

On and Off-Road equipment:

Farm vehicles, engines, equipment and fuels.

General duty for chemical accident prevention

Owners and operators of all facilities that use, handle, or store extremely hazardous substances in any quantity, including farms handling ammonia, have a general duty to identify hazards, design and maintain a safe facility taking steps to prevent releases, and minimize the consequences of accidental releases that do occur.

Any farm.

Risk Management Program and Plan (RMP)

Farms that handle more than a threshold quantity of certain toxic and/or flammable substances must implement a chemical accident program and prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to EPA.

Excluded substances are:

  • Ammonia, used as an agricultural nutrient, when held by a farmer.
  • Listed flammable substances used on-site as a fuel.
Farms using ammonia on-site as an agricultural nutrient are excluded; Farms using listed flammables (e.g., propane) on site as a fuel are also exempt.

Farm Equipment Standards

Boilers - There are two types of air emission regulations for boilers.

Engines - Air quality requirements vary for stationary engines, depending on whether the engine is new or existing, where the engine is located, and what type of ignition system is used.

Farms with boilers (steam generating units).


Farms with stationary internal combustion engines.

For more information on these regulations, visit the Clean Air Act (CAA) website.

Top of Page

Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Type of Facility Applies To:

Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reporting (Tier I & Tier II)

Submit a hazardous chemical inventory form (also known as Tier II) to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the local fire department, annually, by March 1.

The following substances are exempt from reporting:

  • Pursuant to EPCRA section 311(e)(5), substances used in routine agricultural operations are exempt from reporting.

Any farm handling more than a threshold quantity of OSHA hazardous chemicals, which includes EPCRA extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) and non-EHSs)

Emergency release reporting

Report releases of extremely hazardous substances or CERCLA hazardous substances to state and local emergency planning entities.
 
EPA has interpreted EPCRA section 304 to not require reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms.  
 
On November 14, 2018, EPA published a proposed rule to amend EPCRA release notification regulations to add the reporting exemption for air releases from animal waste at farms provided in CERCLA section 103(e).  
 
Additionally, EPA interprets EPCRA to exclude farms that only use substances in routine agricultural operations.
 
Other exemptions from release reporting:
  • Normal application of fertilizers.
  • Application, handling and storage of a registered pesticide by an agricultural producer.
  • Natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquified natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel.
  • Petroleum products not specifically listed or designated as a hazardous substance. For example, gasoline or diesel fuel.
  • Federally permitted releases.
  • Natural releases from farming land disturbance activities

Any farm that releases more than a reportable quantity or more of an extremely hazardous substance or a CERCLA hazardous substance.

Emergency Planning Notification

Notify State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) if you have an EPCRA EHS at or above its threshold planning quantity (TPQ).  Designate a facility emergency coordinator to participate in local emergency planning process and provide requested any information necessary for development of local emergency plan.

The list of EHSs and their TPQs can be found at 40 CFR 355, Appendix A and B. 

Any farm that has an EPCRA EHS present at or above its threshold planning quantity.

There are no exclusions or exemptions for farms for this requirement.

For more information on these regulations, visit the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) website.

Top of Page

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

Program Area Requirements of Farm Type of Facility Applies To:

Lead-Based Paint

EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-school built before 1978 have their firm certified by EPA (or an EPA authorized state), use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices.

Home renovation, repairs, or painting that disturb lead-based paint.

For more information on these regulations, visit the Toxic Substances Control Act website.

Top of Page