Rules for around pig and cattle producers statewide were changed this July, affecting CFOs and CAFOs. Under Indiana regulations, confined feeding operations, or CFOs, are farms with 300 or more cattle, 600 or more swine, 30,000 or more poultry, or 500 or more horses in confinement. Concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, meet larger threshold numbers.
Indiana has roughly 2,000 confined feeding operations, 628 of which are the larger CAFOs. These large CAFOs are responsible for about 80 percent of all livestock raised in Indiana which includes approximately 850,000 cows, more than 3.6 million swine, and more than 42 million birds per year. These animals are mass produced in assembly-line fashion and generate vast amounts of manure.
The manure produced in such large quantities is typically stored in pits, tanks or lagoons until it is applied as fertilizer for corn, soybeans or other crops, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Eleven state inspectors inspect an estimated 1,600 operations once every five years. The two annual inspections mean producers have time to put in place new policies and procedures.
New restrictions on the amount of manure that can be spread on the ground have been updated in an effort to reduce fish kills and other negative environmental impacts. The new rules apply to all the state’s confined feeding operations and concentrated animal feeding operations.
Waste run-off can seep into waterways, contaminating use for fishing, swimming, drinking and other public activities for miles. Careful storage and conservation can prevent contamination from occurring. As of the changes in regulation, manure is required to be measured by phosphorous level instead of nitrate level, to ensure that phosphorous doesn’t build up and then move into surface water, Tamilee Nennich, Purdue Extension nutrient management specialist, said in a jconline.com article.
“That causes algae growth in the water, and eventually that growth can really seriously lead to fish kills,” Nennich said.
Manure management changes can be expensive for small or medium size farms, which are the most numerous across the state, Nennich said.
- There are now two types of permits for confined feeding operations, depending on if the operation discharges manure or pollutant-bearing water.
- CAFOs, which traditionally have had stricter rules, can take on a general CFO status or continue to have CAFO permits.
- Except with a permit or in emergency situations, spreading manure on frozen or snow-covered ground is not allowed.
- Operations must make nutrient management plans available to the public.