Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
This website provides information and links to help farmers, citizens, local officials, and other interested parties understand the regulations and permitting requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.
The livestock production industry has undergone a trend in recent decades toward consolidation of smaller livestock operations into fewer but larger operations. These larger operations tend to be more specialized and have more intense production cycles. Some have insufficient crop and pasture lands available to spread the manure and wastewater generated. The potential for water quality impacts from pollutant discharges at such facilities has led to changes in regulations and permitting programs to better protect waterways and drinking water supplies in Ohio and across the country. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Ohio EPA have updated the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations and requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to control spills and runoff of nutrients and other pollutants from these operations.
Is my livestock operation a CAFO?
To be considered a CAFO, a livestock operation must first be considered an animal feeding operation, or AFO. If your livestock operation confines animals for at least 45 days in a 12-month period in an area where grass or other vegetation is not maintained during the normal growing season, then it is probably an AFO.
Next, an AFO must meet certain criteria to be considered a CAFO. There are three CAFO size categories: Large CAFOs, Medium CAFOs, and Small CAFOs. Each category has its own criteria defining which operations are considered to be CAFOs. You can find more information on the CAFO definitions and criteria in the fact sheet Ohio EPA NPDES Permit, Part I - General Overview of New Federal Regulations [PDF 80K]. All AFOs that meet the criteria for one of the CAFO size categories are regulated under the NPDES permitting program.
Do I need a CAFO NPDES permit?
If you are a large or medium CAFO that discharges or proposes to discharge, you need a CAFO NPDES permit. A CAFO proposes to discharge if it is designed, constructed, operated or maintained such that a discharge will occur. It must be noted that there is no exemption for large storm events, and that land application field discharges may trigger NPDES requirements. For more information and suggestions for conducting an objective evaluation, see U.S. EPA's "Implementation Guidance on CAFO Regulations - CAFOs that Discharge or Are Proposing to Discharge ".
CAFO NPDES Permits in Ohio
Ohio EPA currently issues only individual NPDES permits to CAFOs. Use the links below to find information on the NPDES permits issued to CAFOs in Ohio.
Individual CAFO Permits
|Permit Number||Facility Name||County|
|0IK00012||Wallick Poultry 1-2-3||Tuscarawas|
|1IK00001||Ohio Heifer Center||Clark|
|2IK00009||Wenning Poultry Farm||Mercer|
|2IK00031||Trillium Farm Holdings, Layer Site 6||Wyandot|
|2IK00032||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 5||Hardin|
|2IK00033||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Goshen Pullet Site||Hardin|
|2IK00058||Falling Star Farm LLC||Ashland|
|3IK00013||Paradise Valley Farms||Stark|
|3IN00314||Northfield Park Association||Summit|
|4IK00005||New Day Farms, LLC-Mad River Facility||Union|
|4IK00014||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 1||Licking|
|4IK00015||New Day Farms, Croton||Licking|
|4IK00016||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 3||Licking|
|4IK00017||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 4||Licking|
|4IK00018||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 1||Licking|
|4IK00019||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 2||Licking|
|4IK00020||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Breeder Layer 2||Licking|
|4IK00021||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 3||Licking|
|4IK00023||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Hatchery Breeder Pullet||Licking|
|4IK00032||New Day Farms, LLC-Farm 3 Facility||Union|
NOTE: These pages contain general information on the types of requirements that are included in NPDES permits issued to CAFOs. You must read the specific requirements in the NPDES permit issued to your CAFO to know exactly what you must do to comply.
CAFO General Information
Ohio's Surface Water Permitting Laws and Rules
The following is a list of Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) chapters related to the Division of Surface Water's CAFO Permitting Program:
- OAC Chapter 3745-1, Water Quality Standards. Water quality standards for surface waters of the state. This page also provides links to the rules for Water Body Use Designations, including which water bodies are designated as State Resource Waters.
- OAC Chapter 3745-33, Ohio NPDES Permits. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. Provides permitting requirements for municipal and industrial discharges to waters of the state.
- Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6111, Water Pollution Control. Specifies the powers of Ohio EPA with respect to water pollution control.
Ohio's CAFO NPDES Program
You can find general information about Ohio EPA's CAFO NPDES permit program in the following fact sheets:
- Ohio EPA CAFO NPDES Permit - General Overview of Federal Regulations [PDF 220K]
- Ohio EPA CAFO NPDES Permit - What Is It and How To Get One? [PDF 28K]
Ohio's NPDES program for CAFOs incorporates the requirements of U.S. EPA's CAFO regulations under the Clean Water Act. You can use the links below to find out more about the federal CAFO requirements.
- U.S. EPA's CAFO rule page contains fact sheets with general information and links to the text of the federal regulations.
- The Producers' Compliance Guide for CAFOs contains additional information on how to comply with the federal regulations.
CAFOs and Ohio's Water Quality
Of the 257,000 animal feeding operations in the United States today, about 15,500 are CAFOs. There are about 150 large CAFOs in Ohio. A number of smaller operations have also applied for coverage under NPDES CAFO permits. These operations generate manure, litter and process wastewater, which can contain pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorus, metals and bacteria. If CAFO operators do not manage these materials properly, they could release pollutants into the environment through spills, overflows or runoff. These releases, in turn, might pollute surface waters and threaten the health of people and animals. On the other hand, when operators manage manure, litter and process wastewater properly, they help to prevent water pollution and its negative impacts.
Organic enrichment and low dissolved oxygen, sediment and siltation, nutrients, pathogens, metals and ammonia are among the leading causes of water quality impairment in Ohio. Discharges and polluted runoff from CAFOs can contribute to the water quality impacts caused by these pollutants.
Ohio EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program focuses on identifying and restoring polluted rivers, streams, lakes and other surface water bodies. A TMDL includes an assessment of water quality problems in a water body and contributing sources of pollution.
How to Apply for a CAFO Permit
To apply for coverage under an NPDES CAFO permit, you must complete the appropriate forms by the specified deadlines and submit them to Ohio EPA with the application fee and a complete manure management plan.
Mail the forms, application fee and manure management plan to:
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Division of Surface Water
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049
To apply for a CAFO NPDES permit from Ohio EPA, you must submit the following completed forms to the Ohio EPA Central Office:
- NPDES Form 1 Application and Instructions
- NPDES Form 2B Application
- Ohio EPA Antidegradation Addendum [PDF] or [Word fillable]
To be considered complete, the application must also include a manure management plan that complies with the permit.
A check for $200.00 made payable to the Treasurer of the State of Ohio must be submitted along with the application forms and plan.
The deadlines for applying for an NPDES CAFO permit depend on when the CAFO began or will begin operating.
- New sources (i.e., operations for which the construction began after April 13, 2003) must submit an application for coverage under a permit by no later than 180 days prior to commencing operation.
- Where the operator of a CAFO that is covered by a permit changes and the new operator wishes to have the existing permit coverage transferred, the new and current operators of the facility must complete and send to Ohio EPA a Transfer of Responsibility form in accordance with the requirements of the general permit at least 60 days prior to the change.
- Applications to renew existing NPDES permits must be submitted to Ohio EPA at least 180 days before the expiration date of the existing permit.
For additional explanation of the application deadlines and permit application process, check Ohio EPA's Fact Sheet OHIO EPA CAFO NPDES Permit, What Is It, and How To Get One?
You can get help in complying with your NPDES permit from a variety of sources. Follow the links below to find out about some sources of financial and technical assistance available.
Ohio EPA offers a Small Business Compliance Assistance to help small businesses understand and comply with environmental regulations.
Section 319 of the Clean Water Act establishes a national program to control nonpoint source pollution. Ohio EPA is responsible for administering Ohio's 319 Grant Program. Since 1990 more than 225 state and local nonpoint source projects throughout Ohio have been supported, representing an investment of approximately $40 million of federal, state and local funds.
Ohio EPA's Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) provides financial and technical assistance for a wide variety of actions to protect or improve the quality of Ohio's rivers, streams, lakes and other water resources. The WPCLF offers assistance opportunities for both public and private entities.
The Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) — Linked Deposit Program is a mechanism for financing certain WPCLF projects. Instead of borrowing directly from the WPCLF, the applicant receives a linked deposit loan from a private lending institution. The below-market interest rate for the loan is supported by a WPCLF-funded certificate of deposit with the lender.
Financial assistance is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Check U.S. EPA's Producers' Compliance Guide for CAFOs, Chapter 6. What is the Compliance Assurance Process? for information on additional sources of assistance.
Inspections and Enforcement
Ohio EPA routinely conducts unannounced inspections of livestock operations to evaluate compliance. Ohio EPA inspectors may arrive at a facility without prior notice, and Ohio Revised Code 6111.05 authorizes Ohio EPA inspectors to enter private or public property at reasonable times to inspect or investigate conditions and potentially to collect samples of any discharges.
Ohio EPA generally inspects livestock operations for one of two reasons:
- To determine whether a facility is a CAFO and must obtain an NPDES permit
- To determine whether a permitted facility is in compliance with the conditions of its NPDES permit.
If Ohio EPA discovers a violation of permit conditions or applicable environmental laws, it may take one of a number of enforcement actions, ranging from issuing a notice of violation (NOV) (a letter that explains the problem and how to correct it) to conducting a criminal investigation. The enforcement action taken depends on factors such as the seriousness of the violation and the facility's compliance history. For the most serious violators, possible penalties include imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 per day of violation.
Ohio EPA's Fact Sheet Ohio EPA Livestock Operation Inspections - What to Expect [PDF 86K] explains what to expect if Ohio EPA inspects your CAFO. It covers what an inspector might look for, as well as what might happen if a violation is discovered during an inspection. The document also has suggestions on what to do if you receive an NOV and provides technical assistance contacts.
Monitoring and Inspections
Monitoring requirements in NPDES CAFO permits include sampling and inspections. CAFO operators must take samples of the following:
- Discharges from the production area, each time they occur
- Discharges from storm water pond outlets, each time they occur
- Manure to be land applied. Representative samples must be taken from each source, including lagoons, storage tanks, and stockpile areas, once a year
- Soil in the manure land application areas, once every 3 years
CAFO operators must also conduct the following inspections:
- Weekly inspections of all manure storage or treatment facilities, including channeling devices, for evidence of erosion, leakage, animal damage, or discharge, and monitoring of the operating level
- Weekly inspections of storm water and runoff diversion structures
- Daily inspections of drinking and cooling water lines
- Inspections of land application equipment to comply with the manure management plan.
Construction Storm Water Permits
This NPDES permitting program, administered by Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water, is designed to document construction activity and require practices that keep pollutants out of Ohio's streams.
Composting is regulated by the Ohio EPA's Division of Materials and Waste Management (DMWM). Under the solid waste composting program, composting facilities, including those composting animal waste, must obtain a registration, license, and/or permit. The program also establishes requirements regarding what types of wastes can be composted, operational requirements of the facility, and testing requirements for the finished product prior to distribution.
Source Water Assessment Program
Ohio's Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) Program is an innovative program to protect Ohio's streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ground waters used for public drinking water from future contamination. Building on existing environmental assessment and protection programs, the SWAP Program identifies drinking water source protection areas and provides information on how to reduce the potential for contaminating the waters within those areas.
Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water regulates sewage systems at commercial facilities, including livestock operations. A Permit-to-Install must be obtained from Ohio EPA for the system installation or modification. The above link provides the instructions and application forms for the permit. The permit application must be submitted to the appropriate district office for review and approval. For guidance on the design of the system, please see Sewage: Collection, Treatment & Disposal Where Public Sewers Are Not Available (Green Book) (2013).
Ohio EPA's Division of Drinking and Ground Waters regulates public water systems to ensure they provide water that is safe to drink. Livestock operations that employ more than 25 employees may meet the definition of a public water system [PDF 23K] and be regulated under the Ohio EPA.
Ohio EPA's Division of Emergency and Remedial Response is a program that responds to spill reports and oversees clean-up in order to minimize the impact on the environment. This division operates the emergency spill hotline and may respond to spill reports at livestock operations for materials including oil, gasoline, fertilizer, manure, etc. When an employee from the Emergency and Remedial Response Division responds to a spill, the responsible party is billed for the investigator's time. This is not a fine or penalty.
There are two agencies and departments that regulate livestock operations in the state of Ohio:
- Ohio EPA issues permits through the NPDES CAFO permitting program described on this Web site.
- Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) issues Permits to Install (PTIs) and Permits to Operate (PTOs) through the Ohio Livestock Environmental Permitting Program. Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation (ODA-DSWC) does not issue permits, but does administer and enforce regulations that apply to livestock operations. These regulations cover land application and utilization standards for animal manure and standards for the design and construction of manure storage and treatment facilities. Even though DSWC does not issue permits, a livestock operation might be required to obtain a permit under another program if it does not comply with ODA-DSWC's regulations.
Summary of Ohio EPA, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Natural Resources CAFO Requirements
The following table shows how the regulatory programs described above apply to CAFOs:
Type of Operation
Permit to Install (PTI)
Permit to Operate (PTO)
Medium AFO, discharges to surface water
Medium or small AFO, history of non-compliance with ODNR-DSWC's rules and standards
PTO, PTI (if facility modification is required>
Small AFO adding significant pollutants to surface waters (Designated CAFO)
If 1 or more acres will be disturbed for construction of a livestock operation
NPDES Construction Storm Water permit
(table adapted from Ohio Livestock Coalition's Guidelines for Livestock Operations)>
Ohio Livestock Coalition's Guidelines for Livestock Operations provides more detailed information on how these three agencies regulate livestock operations in Ohio.
- Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS develops agricultural standards for best management practices that relate to lagoon construction, manure management, wetland design, etc. These Conservation Practice Standards are listed in the Field Office Technical Guide. Several of Ohio EPA's CAFO NPDES permit requirements are based on these standards.
The following agencies and organizations also administer programs that might be of interest to CAFO operators.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) Animal Feeding Operations page - provides resources to help animal feeding operations "to achieve their production and natural resource conservation goals through development and implementation of comprehensive nutrient management plans."
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's NPDES CAFO Program - provides information and guidance documents on the federal NPDES regulations for CAFOs.
CAFO Permit Requirements and Compliance
CAFO Compliance Information
Getting covered under an NPDES permit is just the first step in complying with the NPDES regulations for CAFOs. Once you are covered, you have to comply with the conditions and requirements of the permit. Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water operates an Enforcement and Compliance Program to provide technical assistance, conduct inspections, investigate complaints and, where necessary, take enforcement actions to help protect surface waters of the state from pollution.
Once you have received coverage under an individual permit, you are responsible for complying with the requirements and conditions in the permit, including the following:
- Performance standards
- Operation and management practices
- Monitoring and reporting
- Land application requirements
Reporting Spills and Discharges
If you have or witness a spill or accidental discharge that could endanger the environment or public health, it is important to contact Ohio EPA as soon as possible. (NPDES permits require that such discharges be reported within 24 hours.) A statewide toll-free number is available 24 hours a day to report spills and other environmental emergencies: Ohio EPA's Spill Hotline: 1-800-282-9378
You must follow the procedures outlined in your NPDES permit to report nonemergency discharges and other instances of noncompliance with permit conditions.
You are also responsible for maintaining your permit coverage for as long as your facility operates as a CAFO. NPDES permits typically have an effective period of 5 years. You must submit a permit renewal application to Ohio EPA at least 180 days prior to the expiration date of your permit.
NPDES CAFO permits include performance standards that apply to the production and land application areas. These include a prohibition on discharges and a requirement to develop and implement a manure management plan.
Prohibition on discharges
No discharges of manure, litter, or wastewater from the production area of a CAFO may enter waters of the state. Discharges are allowed only when
- The production area is designed, built, operated, and maintained to handle all of the manure, litter, and process wastewater, including the runoff and direct precipitation (rain) from all normal rainfall events up to a 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event. For new swine, veal, or poultry operations, the production area must be designed to handle a 100-year, 24-hour rainfall event.
- The discharge consists of only overflows caused by a rainfall event. Dry-weather discharges are not allowed.
The permit also includes prohibitions on production area discharges resulting from improper mortality management and chemical disposal and from animals coming into direct contact with surface waters. In addition, no discharges may exceed Ohio Water Quality Standards.
For the land application area, the permit prohibits the following discharges:
- Discharges from manure stockpiles.
- Discharges during land application of manure.
- Discharges from land applied manure, unless composed entirely of storm water or snow melt runoff from an area where land application was conducted in accordance with a manure management plan.
Permittees must report all discharges from the production area and some discharges from land application areas to Ohio EPA.
Manure management plans
Each CAFO must develop and implement a manure management plan (MMP) that minimizes the movement of pollutants to surface waters from the production area. The MMP must address the following aspects of the production area to ensure compliance with the discharge prohibition in the permit:
- Specific practices to ensure adequate storage capacity to protect water quality, including provisions to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the storage facilities.
- Practices for proper disposal of dead animals to prevent disposal in the wastewater treatment system and to prevent discharges of pollutants to surface water.
- Practices to divert clean storm water away from production areas.
- Practices to make sure that animals and manure in the production area do not come into direct contact with waters of the State.
- Practices to ensure that unused and waste chemicals and other contaminants do not enter waste storage structures or storm water storage or treatment systems, unless the system is designed to treat the chemicals and other contaminants.
- Provisions to conduct inspections and monitoring.
The MMP must also include a land application plan to comply with the land application requirements of the permit, including:
- A total nutrient budget,
- Manure and soil characterizations,
- Application methods and timing that will minimize nutrient transport to waters of the state, and
- Specific agronomic application rates.
The MMP must also include, as appropriate, specific conservation practices to be implemented to control polluted runoff from the entire operation. MMPs must periodically be reviewed and revised to reflect the current design and practices at the CAFO. Part VII of the permits contain technical standards that the CAFO must comply with. See Part VII language for a large CAFO.
Land Application Requirements
NPDES permits for CAFOs establish requirements regarding land application of CAFO-generated manure and wastewater. These include specific technical requirements that address the following:
- The basis and data to be used for developing the nutrient budget
- Specific procedures for conducting manure and soil characterizations, including requirements for sampling and analysis and soil test methods to be used in developing appropriate manure application rates
- The technical basis for determining land application methods and manure application rates that minimize nutrient runoff, including specific considerations for selecting the nutrient basis for application rates
The land application requirements of an NPDES CAFO permit also include land application restrictions, including setbacks, criteria, and prohibitions.
- Setbacks specify distances from various water and land features to be followed when land-applying and stockpiling manure. The setbacks range from 100 feet to 300 feet.
- Criteria establish conditions that must be met to land-apply under certain circumstances. For example, to apply manure on fields with soil cracks greater than 6 inches deep, the soil must be tilled first.
- An NPDES CAFO permit also describes circumstances under which land application is prohibited. For example, manure may not be applied within the emergency management zone of a surface public water system.
The land application restrictions also specify considerations for determining the appropriate timing, location, and methods for land application of manure, including considerations for soil types and field conditions, weather conditions and seasonal considerations, location of subsurface tile drains, and the like. Part VII of individual permits contain the standard language CAFOs must comply with.
NPDES permits require CAFO operators to keep specific records of certain activities and practices. These records help to show that the operation is complying with the requirements in the NPDES permit. The records must be kept on-site at the CAFO operation for at least 5 years.
- The results of all discharge, manure, and soil sampling, including
- The date, place, and time of sampling
- The person who performed the sampling
- The date and time the analysis was performed
- The person who performed the analysis
- The analytical techniques or methods used
- Bench sheets, instrument readouts, computer disks, etc., used to determine the results
- For discharge sampling, the records must include the cause, volume, and duration of the discharge, any corrective actions needed, and the dates the corrective actions were taken
- The findings of manure storage facility inspections, including
- The date and time
- The manure level in each structure
- Structural integrity and vegetation condition
- Any corrective actions needed and the dates those actions were taken
- The findings of storm water diversion device inspections, including
- The date and time
- Flow quantity and color
- Structural integrity
- Any corrective actions needed and the dates those actions were taken
- The findings of water line inspections, including
- The date and time
- Number of leaks
- Any corrective actions needed and the dates those actions were taken
- How mortalities are managed to satisfy the performance standards
- The current design of all manure storage structures, including:
- Volume for solids accumulation
- Design treatment volume
- Total design volume
- Approximate number of days of storage capacity
- When manure is distributed or used on land not owned or operated by the permittee, records of when and how much manure was transferred and the name and address of each manure recipient.
- When manure is applied to land at the CAFO, records of
- Expected crop yields
- Dates the manure was applied
- Weather conditions during land application and for 24 hours before and after land application
- The methods used to sample and analyze manure and soil
- Calculations and records showing the basis for determining the application rates
- Planned and actual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus applied to each field
- Methods used to apply manure
- The findings of land application equipment inspections, including a list of equipment,
date(s) of inspection, corrective actions, and calibration dates
- For any deficiencies not corrected within 30 days, an explanation of the factors preventing immediate correction
Download Ohio EPA NPDES record keeping forms [PDF 80K].
Every year permittees must report certain information to Ohio EPA, including
- The number and type of animals confined
- The amount of manure generated
- The amount of manure removed from the facility or utilized
- The number of acres available for land application covered by the manure management plan
- Summary of the number of discharges from the production area, including date, time, and approximate volume
- Any instances of noncompliance not already reported, including a description of the noncompliance and its cause, the dates and times or the anticipated times it is expected to continue, steps taken or planned to prevent reoccurrence of the noncompliance, and a statement indicating if the manure management plan was developed by a certified manure management planner
Download the Ohio EPA CAFO NPDES Permit Annual Report Guide.
CAFO Permit Requirements
NPDES permits contain specific requirements for CAFO operations, including requirements for the production area (where animals are confined and where wastes and raw materials are stored) and land application area (land under the control of the CAFO where manure or wastewater is spread). In general, the permit requirements include the following:
- CAFOs may not discharge pollutants, except under certain circumstances.
- Every CAFO must develop and implement a manure management plan that specifies best management practices for manure and wastewater handling and disposal which complies with the NPDES permit.
- Every CAFO must conduct inspections and monitoring and keep records.
- Every CAFO must submit an annual report to Ohio EPA.
Parts I, A and VII of the NPDES permit contains many of the technical standards that CAFOs must comply with.
- Standard Part I, A language [PDF 13K]
- Standard Part VII language [PDF 113K]
Check U.S. EPA's NPDES CAFO rule page for a fact sheet series that provides general information on federal permit requirements for specific livestock sectors.
Operation and Management Practices
An NPDES permit for a CAFO includes specific requirements to ensure that the CAFO is properly operated and managed to minimize the potential to discharge pollutants to waters of the state. These requirements include
- Proper operation and maintenance of manure handling equipment and immediate corrective action when equipment failures occur
- Proper closure of facilities that cease operation, including removal and proper disposal of all manure and closure of all lagoons
- Establishment of protective vegetative cover on embankments, berms, and other areas
- Minimum freeboard requirements for liquid waste storage structures, including installation of a depth marker that indicates the minimum allowable operating capacity
- Provision of adequate storage volume to prevent the necessity of applying manure and wastewater on frozen or snow-covered ground