The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting public comments on a proposed new rule which could increase the amount of information owners of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) report, according to the Iowa State University Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG).

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

The rule was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 21. A Nov. 17 webcast will provide more information about the rule. Those involved in the livestock industry are encouraged to listen to the webcasts and provide feedback during the 60-day comment period.

EPA's proposal would require CAFOs to provide five elements of basic information including: facility contact information, production area location, whether the CAFO has a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) 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.

The proposal contains two options regarding which CAFOs would be required to submit information to 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 the informational webcast on the rule can be found at: cfpub.epa.gov/. The comment period closes Dec. 20, 2011. The EPA plans to take final action on this proposal by July 2012.

Individuals can provide comments to the EPA in multiple ways – online, email, fax, mail or courier. Specific instructions are available on the EPA website at cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/.

Read more about the proposed rule at the National Hog Farmer website at nationalhogfarmer.com/news/.