Animal feedlots and farm facilities for the intensive raising of livestock generate enormous quantities of manure. Unless the manure is properly managed, it can pose significant pollution risks to ground- and surface-waters. Contained Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are defined by the collective body mass of the animals being raised and are required to be permitted and operated to their reduce off-site pollution risks.
Regulating CAFOs and intensive livestock operations can help minimize off-site impacts such as water pollution caused by nutrient loading from manure-laden stormwater runoff, or manure containment ponds or pits overflowing after heavy rains. Restrictions on manure spreading can also reduce nutrient loading to, and the impairment of, adjacent waterways.
Intensive raising of livestock can be an economically-important activity in some regions, and CAFO regulations can impose an additional cost on farmers. As long as these requirements are imposed, monitored and enforced industry-wide then there will be no competitive disadvantages from compliance. If, however, enforcement or inspection is spotty, there will be incentives for farmers not to follow the CAFO regulations, resulting in higher pollution and public health risks.
Example 1: Brown County, WI
Description: Brown County instituted a waste management ordinance in 1986 and their website offers guidance as well as a link to the actual ordinance.
Example 2: Adams County, WI
Description: Adams County instituted the following ordinance to protect their water supply.
Example 3: Columbia County, WI
Description: Columbia County wrote their ordinance to avoid contamination of the surface and groundwater supply.
Photo Credit: Brown County Website