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National Compliance Initiative: Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water

Beef cattle operation
Beef cattle operation


Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a subset of livestock and poultry animal feeding operations (AFOs) that meet the regulatory thresholds of number of animals for various animal types. Animals are kept and raised in confined situations for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period and feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise feeding in pastures, fields, or on range land.

At these facilities, live animals, as well as mortalities, feed, and animal wastes may be congregated on a small land area. These operations generate significant volumes of animal waste which, if improperly managed, can result in environmental and human health risks such as water quality impairment, fish kills, algal blooms, contamination of drinking water sources, and transmission of disease-causing bacteria and parasites associated with food and waterborne diseases.


Starting in FY 2019, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance intends to return this NCI to our core program rather than keep it as a national priority. As part of the core program, in collaboration with authorized state programs, regions will continue to conduct inspections and enforcement actions to address serious violations in this area, focusing on the Strategic Plan goal to address water quality impairments.


Progress on Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water

The following map and chart show progress in reducing animal waste pollution from livestock and poultry concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) operations.

Map of large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) and EPA CAFO inspections and enforcement actions