Ohio Regulates Concentrated Animal Feeding Facilities

​Q: What is a concentrated animal feeding facility? 
A: A concentrated animal feeding facility, or CAFF, is a livestock farm of a certain size that houses animals in barns or feedlots rather than in pastures or other vegetated areas. CAFFs include farms with as many as 1,000 cattle, 700 dairy cows, 1,000 veal calves, 2500 swine, 500 horses, 10,000 sheep, 55,000 turkeys, 30,000 laying hens and broilers with liquid manure systems, 82,000 laying hens with non-liquid manure systems, 125,000 chickens other than laying hens with non-liquid manure systems, 5,000 ducks with liquid manure systems and 30,000 ducks with non-liquid manure systems. The government can designate smaller livestock farms as CAFFs if they have discharged manure into streams.

Q: How are CAFFs regulated in Ohio?
A: Owners and operators of a CAFF must obtain two permits from the Ohio Department of Agriculture: a “permit to install” authorizing its construction and a “permit to operate.” If a CAFF plans to discharge pollutants into a stream, it also must possess a discharge permit known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Q: What environmental risks does the Ohio Department of Agriculture  minimize by requiring these permits? 
A: These permits are issued to minimize water pollution, odors, insects and rodents from CAFFs.

Q: How can “permits to install” minimize environmental risks?
A: These permits prevent the construction of CAFFs in environmentally sensitive areas. CAFFs may not be built too close to homes, streams, water supplies, neighboring property boundaries or water supply wells. Barns, manure ponds and farmyards must be designed to prevent the escape of manure and contaminated storm water into streams and ground water.

Q: How do “permits to operate” prevent environmental problems? 
A: An important component of a permit to operate is a manure management plan requiring a CAFF to abide by procedures for preventing the escape of manure and contaminated storm water from manure storage structures and fields. Another integral part of the permit is an insect and rodent control plan. 

Q: What are CAFFs allowed to do with their manure? 
A: Lawful uses for manure include its application onto fields as fertilizer, partial consumption in a digester to make electricity, and conversion into marketable compost.

Q: What procedures must CAFFs follow to prevent pollution from spreading manure on their fields?
A: Manure must be spread in accordance with best management practices limiting application rates, avoiding application on wet soil, prohibiting spreading just before or during rainfall and keeping a safe distance from homes and streams. These practices minimize manure runoff into streams and reduce annoying odors.

Q: What process must a CAFF follow to obtain a permit from the Ohio Department of Agriculture?
A: Prospective owners and operators of a CAFF must submit a detailed application to the Department. After the Department reviews and modifies the application, it provides a draft permit to the public for comment. If there is enough public interest, or if an applicant requests it, the Department holds a public meeting to hear comments about the application. The Department considers these comments in making its final decision about issuing the permits.

Q: How can I learn more about the regulation of CAFFs?
A: The websites of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (www.agri.ohio.gov.divs/DLEP/dlep.aspx) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov/agriculture/anafowat.html​) contain extensive information about the regulatory programs for these forms.


This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by attorney Jack Van Kley, a member of the Columbus firm of Van Kley & Walker, LLC. 

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.



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