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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)

As a result of litigation started over a decade ago, the U.S. EPA adopted several changes to the federal CAFO program that must now be undertaken by livestock producers. The CAFO program is administered by the Illinois EPA as part of the delegation agreement for the entire National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. These CAFO rules were revised by U.S. EPA for several reasons:

  • Rules written in the 1970s have become outdated as technology has undergone change since then.
  • There was a need to address continued discharges and runoff of manure from all sectors of the livestock industry, in many areas of the country, including Illinois.
  • The new CAFO rules update regulations to reflect structural changes - consolidation - in the industry that have occurred since the 1970s.
  • The rules target improvement of the CAFO regulations' effectiveness to help correct improper management practices.

What's Required Under The New CAFO Rules?

In Illinois, the rule will affect CAFOs that discharge. Under the permits for these livestock operations, CAFOs will be required to:

  • Apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit;
  • Submit an Annual Report; and
  • Develop and implement a manure and wastewater handling plan (Nutrient Management Plan).

Who Must Apply For A CAFO NPDES Permit?

A CAFO that discharges must be covered by a permit at the time it discharges.

You will need to apply for a CAFO NPDES permit if you own or operate a "Large" CAFO that discharges. You are a "Large" CAFO if your operation has at least:

  • 700 mature dairy cows
  • 1,000 veal calves
  • 1,000 beef cattle or heifers
  • 500 horses
  • 2,500 swine (each 55 lbs or more)
  • 10,000 swine (each under 55 lbs)
  • 10,000 sheep or lambs
  • 55,000 turkeys
  • 30,000 ducks (other than liquid manure handling systems)
  • 5,000 ducks (liquid manure handling systems)
  • 30,000 chickens (liquid manure handling systems)
  • 125,000 chickens except laying hens (other than liquid manure handling systems)
  • 82,000 laying hens (other than liquid manure handling systems)

You will need to apply for a CAFO NPDES permit if you own or operate a "Medium" CAFO that discharges. You are a "Medium" CAFO if you have:

  • A man-made ditch or pipe carrying manure or wastewater from your operation to surface waters; OR
  • Animals in contact with surface water in the areas in which they are confined.

A "Medium" CAFO must also have between:

  • 200 - 699 mature dairy cows
  • 300 - 999 veal calves
  • 300 - 999 beef cattle or heifers
  • 150 - 499 horses
  • 750 - 2,499 swine (each 55 lbs or more)
  • 3,000 - 9,999 swine (each under 55 lbs)
  • 3,000 - 9,999 sheep or lambs
  • 16,500 - 54,999 turkeys
  • 10,000 - 29,999 ducks (other than liquid manure handling systems)
  • 1,500 - 4,999 ducks (liquid manure handling systems)
  • 9,000 - 29,999 chickens (liquid manure handling systems)
  • 37,500 - 124,999 chickens except laying hens (other than liquid manure handling systems)
  • 25,000 - 81,999 laying hens (other than liquid manure handling systems)

Livestock Operations

Livestock Annual Summaries
Section 319 Projects
IEPA Field Offices
What to Expect from an Illinois EPA Livestock Facility Inspection

Contact Information

Additional Information

Natural Resources Conservation Service
Livestock Management Facility Act
Illinois Agronomy Handbook
Illinois Certified Livestock Manager Training
A Guide to Federal, State and Regional Loan and Grant Programs for Agribusiness
AFO Virtual Information Center - USEPA

NRCS Practice Standards

Nutrient Management (590)
Waste Utilization (633)
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