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Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP):

Costs Associated with Development and Implementation

Part I - Nutrient Management, Land Treatment, Manure and Wastewater Handling and Storage, and Recordkeeping


The Nation's livestock sector has undergone dramatic change in recent decades. The substantial productivity increases in animal agriculture have fueled consolidation and geographic concentration. Correspondingly, the industry has seen marked declines in the number of livestock operations and an increase in the number of animals produced in confinement. The largest of animal feeding operations - concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) - are defined as point sources and regulated under the authority of the Clean Water Act. However, all animal feeding operations (AFOs) are being scrutinized for their potential to contribute to non-point source pollution of the Nation's water resources.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a joint "Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations"(Strategy), which presented a plan for addressing the potential water quality and public health impacts associated with AFOs. The Strategy recognized the complementary roles to be played by voluntary and regulatory programs. Importantly, the Strategy articulated a national performance expectation that all AFOs should develop and implement technically sound, economically feasible, and site-specific comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs) to minimize potential adverse impacts on water quality and public health, and to accomplish this within a 10-year implementation period.

The Strategy recognized the importance of understanding the costs of nationwide CNMP implementation and called upon EPA and USDA to evaluate costs and benefits. In September 2000, USDA initiated the first phase of an assessment of:

  1. The cost of upgrading facilities and practices on AFOs nationwide to meet CNMP technical guidance.
  2. The technical assistance needed to plan, design, implement, and follow up on needed structures and practices.
  3. The cost of alternatives to land application of manure, including feed management, alternative uses, and treatment options.

This report addresses the first two components of the USDA assessment. Presented here are the findings on the number and distribution of operations potentially needing CNMPs, estimated costs for developing and implementing CNMPs on these operations, and overall cost summaries by region, livestock type, and operation size. A subsequent report will address the cost of alternatives to land application of manure and other strategies to minimize potential nutrient excesses.

List of maps used in this report