The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule which could increase the amount of information owners of concentrated animal feeding operations report, according to South Dakota State University (SDSU).

The new rule is referred to as the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) 308 rule, under a settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club.

The rule was published Oct. 21, in the Federal Register. It is currently in the 60-day comment period. Webcasts on the rule will be held on Nov. 9 and Nov. 17. Those involved in the livestock industry are encouraged to listen to the webcasts and provide feedback during this 60-day comment period.

“If this proposed ruling becomes law, it could impact South Dakota livestock producers. We strongly encourage everyone to become involved in the process," says Erin Cortus, SDSU Extension Air Quality and Waste Management specialist. "The window of time in which producers' comments can make a difference is short. Don't wait.”

Key Points

The proposed rule is an information collection rule, and would not change which CAFOs need National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) or Surface Water Discharge permits in South Dakota.

EPA's proposal would require CAFOs to provide five elements of basic information which include: facility contact information, production area location, whether the CAFO has a NPDES or Surface Water Discharge permit, the number and type of animals at the CAFO and the number of acres available for land application of manure, litter and process wastewater.

CAFO owners and operators ultimately would submit information through an online form.

The proposal contains two options regarding which CAFOs would be required to submit information to the EPA. One option would require every CAFO in the United States to report this information to EPA, unless states with authorized NPDES programs choose to provide this information on behalf of the CAFOs in their state. The second option would require CAFOs in "focus watersheds" that have water quality concerns associated with CAFOs to report information to EPA.

EPA will take comments on both options as well as alternative approaches to gather information. The proposed rule, a fact sheet, common questions and answers about the rule, and information on how to register for webcasts on the rule that will be held on Nov. 9 and Nov.17 can be found at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/aforule.cfm. The comment period closes Dec. 20, 2011. The EPA plans to take final action on this proposal by July 2012.

How to Comment

Individuals can provide comments to the EPA in multiple ways – online, email, fax, mail or courier. Specific instructions are available on the EPA website. If you have any questions, contact Erin Cortus, SDSU Extension Air Quality and Waste Management specialist at (605)688-5144 or erin.cortus@sdstate.edu; or contact Kent Woodmansey, with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, (605) 773-3351 or Kent.Woodmansey@state.sd.us.