Land Application Portion of EPA’s CAFO Regulations Reflect Broiler Chicken Industry Practices

EPA has finalized sweeping new Clean Water Act regulations for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that will cover thousands of additional livestock and poultry farms by federal requirements. “Although we have not had an opportunity to review EPA’s new poultry and livestock rule in detail and to fully understand how it will affect the poultry industry, we understand that the land application portion of the rule is consistent with the principles and practices already adopted by the broiler chicken industry, ” the National Chicken Council said Monday.
The new regulations, released by the Environmental Protection Agency Monday, will apply to farms growing 125,000 broilers at a time and will require them to obtain permits and develop nutrient management plans.

“Most broiler farms in the country are already operating under nutrient management plans or have applied for assistance in developing them,” said Steve Pretanik, director of science and technology at NCC. “Now many of them will have to obtain federal permits and comply with additional regulations, but the basis for industry compliance is already very much in place.”

“Based on our preliminary analysis, we anticipate that there will be additional responsibilities, costs and perhaps legal risks,” Pretanik said. “We will continue to work with the industry and with state and federal governments to help broiler producers comply with the new regulations.”

In 1998, the industry adopted a voluntary program to assist farmers in protecting water quality on their farms or on fields fertilized with poultry litter. The program called for farmers, in cooperation with experts at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other agencies, to prepare nutrient management plans and take a number of other steps to protect the environment. A survey of chicken farmers by NCC showed that 75 percent of farms either had plans in place or were in the process of obtaining them by the end of 2001.

About 13 percent of the broiler farms in the country will be fully covered by the new regulations. Most farms have fewer than 125,000 birds on the premises. Broilers are raised in large, barnlike structures known as growout houses, each of which holds from 20,000 to 33,000 birds, depending on the size of the house. The animals are not kept in cages but are free to roam about the growout house.

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