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Animal Feeding Operations

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP)

The objective of a CNMP is to provide Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) owners/operators with a plan to address manure or wastewater handling and storage, treatment, and nutrient management that involves the application of manure and wastewater associated with the Animal Feeding Operation or Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) (GM Title 190 Part 405).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines AFOs as agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. There are approximately 450,000 AFOs in the United States.

Confined Feeding
Figure 1: Confined Animal Feeding Operation. Photo Credit: U S Geological Survey

A CAFO is another EPA term for a large concentrated AFO.  A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1000 pounds live weight and equates to 1000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 lbs, 125 thousand broiler chickens, or 82 thousand laying hens or pullets) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year.  Any size AFO that discharges manure or wastewater into a natural or man-made ditch, stream or other waterway is defined as a CAFO, regardless of size.  CAFOs are regulated by EPA under the Clean Water Act in both the 2003 and 2008 versions of the "CAFO" rule.

USDA’s goal is for AFO/CAFO owners and operators to take voluntary actions to minimize potential air and water pollutants from storage facilities, confinement areas, and land application areas.  NRCS can help landowners achieve this goal by providing technical and in many cases financial assistance, for the adoption of practices that will protect our natural resources.

 

CNMP Definition

A CNMP is a conservation plan for an AFO that:

 Must include the following:

  1. a) The production area including the animal confinement, feed and other raw materials storage areas, animal mortality facilities, and the manure handling containment or storage areas, and
    (b) The land treatment area, including any land under control of the AFO owner or operator, whether it is owned, rented, or leased, and to which manure or process wastewater is, or might be, applied for crop, hay, pasture production, or other uses;
  2. At a minimum, addresses Water Quality, Soil Erosion, and Air Quality to the planning criteria level as outlined in the Title 180, National Planning Procedures Handbook (NPPH);
  3. Develop the CNMP in accordance with all applicable local, Tribal, State, and Federal water quality goals or regulations; and
  4. Satisfies the owner/operator’s production objectives.

Feed Management

Feed management is a term given to manipulating and controlling the quantity and quality of available nutrients, feedstuffs, ingredients, or additives fed to livestock and poultry.  Nutrients fed in excess of animal requirements are excreted in manure.  Nutrients may be overfed to animals because of variation in the nutrients in the feed ingredients, or because of the tendency to feed for the production of the least productive animal, leading to all other animals being overfed.  Feed rations and supplements such as Phytase can drastically change feed conversion efficiency and nutrients excreted.  Careful monitoring and adjustments of individual rations should be done in order to match land availability and crop requirements.

Feed management is a planning consideration in a CNMP for increasing diet formulation and manipulation options, reducing manure nutrients, and increasing nutrient uptake efficiency.

Additional Information

Nutrient Management documents are available from the NRCS Distribution Center for Publications and Forms by calling (888)526-3227, by sending an e-mail to nrcsdistributioncenter@ia.usda.gov, or by visiting the NRCS Distribution Center Web site.

Technical Service Providers (TSPs)

The Agency recognizes TSPs can assist in meeting the CNMP workload.

NRCS's online tool for Technical Service Providers to register, become certified, and manage their TSP profiles.

Automation of the CNMP Development Process

CNMP planners are encouraged to use Manure Management Planner (MMP) because it is agency recognized and approved, designed to streamline the CNMP development process.  MMP is routinely updated to ensure it meets NRCS policy and incorporates current state data. MMP was developed on a state-by-state basis to include each state’s unique data and circumstances important to CNMP development and acceptance by state authorities. MMP automates the generation of high quality CNMP reports.

If a State chooses not to use a MMP, they need to ensure it meets NRCS policy and CPS 590 Nutrient Management.  Contact the National Animal Manure and Nutrient Management Team Leader for assistance.

CNMP Advantages

  • The CNMP documents agricultural utilization of nutrients according to science-based management strategies.
  • The AFO decision maker (i.e., controlling manager or producer) can submit the CNMP as part of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application.

CNMP National Policy and Guidance Documents

View the General Manual (GM) 190, Part 405-Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans on the NRCS eDirectives website.

Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency defines Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) as:

agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. An AFO is a lot or facility (other than an aquatic animal production facility) where the following conditions are met:

  • animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and
  • crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.

AFOs that meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) regulatory definition of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) are regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program. The NPDES program regulates the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States. CAFOs are point sources, as defined by the Clean Water Act [Section 502(14)] (PDF) (3 pp, 132 KB, About PDF). To be considered a CAFO, a facility must first be defined as an AFO, and meet the criteria established in the CAFO regulation.

USDA’s goal is for AFOs and CAFOs owners and operators to take voluntary actions to minimize potential soil erosion and water pollutants from storage facilities, confinement areas, and land application areas.  NRCS can help landowners achieve this goal by providing technical and in many cases financial assistance, for the adoption of practices that will protect our natural resources.