The Environmental Protection Agency released a four-page synopsis of a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulation last Friday, based on the EPA's authority under the Clean Water Act.

EPA is looking at a two- or three-tiered approach. The two-tiered approach would define animal feeding operations with 500 head as concentrated animal feeding operations and require them to have a permit. AFOs with less than the elected number would not need a permit unless the state or federal government deemed it necessary.

The three-tiered approach would be more complex. Like the two-tiered approach, the three-tiered approach would require a permit for operations with more than a 1,000 head of cattle. At "mid level" (e.g. 300 to 1,000 head) the state would evaluate risk factors, such as recent water quality violations or direct contact with U.S. waters in the feedlot area, to determine whether a permit should be required. Designated smaller operations would be individually evaluated to determine whether a permit is necessary.

According to EPA, about 2,500 livestock operations are now classified as CAFOs and required to have permits. Under the proposed regulation, about 39,000 livestock facilities will be required to have permits under the Clean Water Act.

The complete proposal will be available in the Federal Register in
January. To view the synopsis of the regulation, visit

National Cattlemen's Beef Association