Confined food-animal operations in the United States produce more than 40 times the amount of waste than human biosolids generated from US wastewater treatment plants. Unlike biosolids, which must meet regulatory standards for pathogen levels, vector attraction reduction and metal content, no treatment is required of waste from animal agriculture. This omission is of concern based on dramatic changes in livestock production over the past 50 years, which have resulted in large increases in animal waste and a high degree of geographic concentration of waste associated with the regional growth of industrial food-animal production. Regulatory measures have not kept pace with these changes. The purpose of this paper is to: 1) review trends that affect food-animal waste production in the United States, 2) assess risks associated with food-animal wastes, 3) contrast food-animal waste management practices to management practices for biosolids and 4) make recommendations based on existing and potential policy options to improve management of food-animal waste.
Keywords: agriculture, food animal, livestock, manure, policy, public health