Regulating the land application of manure from animal production facilities in the USA

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Water pollution from the land application of manure has been cited as an issue that needs to be addressed. Judicial challenges have forced the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt additional controls governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). State agencies have also been directed to do more to minimize the risk of pollution from animal production. In developing appropriate controls, regulatory agencies have distinguished animal production facilities based on size and on whether they discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Four categories of animal producers have been identified based on different requirements addressing the land application of manure. The expenses of regulatory requirements for agriculture suggest that other avenues should be explored to enhance sustainable production and reduce water pollution. The identification of polluters, implementation efforts, enforcement issues and educational endeavors could be augmented to address contamination problems. Finding ways for agricultural groups to cooperate with the EPA and for states to implement total maximum daily load requirements might also be effective in improving water quality. To address the land application of manure, the goal should be to eliminate substandard land application practices that cause too many pollutants to enter surface waters rather than simply imposing additional regulations.

Keywords: CAFO, Land application, Manure, Permit, Regulation, Water pollution

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