Animal Feeding Operations



Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are agricultural entities that raise animals in confined areas. More specifically, AFOs are defined in the regulations implementing the Clean Water Act (CWA) as facilities, except aquatic animal production facilities, that confine and feed animals for 45 or more days per year and do not have sustained vegetation during the growing season over any portion of the facility. This overview focuses on environmental regulation and common law actions as they pertain to animal feeding operations. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (aka Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1387

Federal Air Pollution and Control Act (aka Clean Air Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7401-7671q

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11001-11050

Compilation of States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes

Compilation of States’ Right-To-Farm Statutes


CAFO Regulations

EPA Animal Feeding Operation Clean Water Act Regulations

40 C.F.R. pts. 122-123
40 C.F.R. §§ 412.1-412.47

EPA Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Part 52

EPA Clean Air Act State Operating Permit Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Part 70

EPA Clean Air Act Federal Operating Permit Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Part 71

EPA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Reporting Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 302.1-302.8

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Notification Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Part 355

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Animal Feeding Operations

Administrative Law Decisions

EPA Animal Feeding Operations Compliance and Enforcement Cases

EPA Office of Administrative Law Judges

Environmental Appeals Board

Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

The Veterinary Feed Directive Rules for Veterinarians: A Practical Guide for the Practicing Veterinarian  (Roasa)

Legal Issues in Animal Agriculture: Medication, Identification and Accommodations (E. Rumley)

States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes (Springsteen, 2009)

The Clean Water Authority Restoration Act: A Primer of Background Material (Goeringer & Rumley, 2009)

States’ Right-To-Farm Statutes (Springsteen, 2009)

Environmental Law: Federal Laws That Affect Agriculture – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2009)

Governments and Unconstitutional Takings: When Do Right-To-Farm Laws Go Too Far? (Centner, 2007)

Clarifying NPDES Requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (Centner, 2007)

2005 Environmental Law Update (Feitshans, 2006)

Market Concentration, Horizontal Consolidation, and Vertical Integration in the Hog and Cattle Industries: Taking Stock of the Road Ahead (Pittman, 2005)

Legal Issues in Developing a National Plan for Animal Identification (Roberts and Pittman, 2004)

Nuisance Immunity Provided by Iowa’s Right-To-Farm Statute (Dzur, 2004)

Government Oversight of Animal Feeding Operations (Centner, 2003)

Congressional Research Service Reports

CRS Subject(s):

Animal Agriculture
Climate Change
Environmental Issues

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Animal Feeding Operations:

Agribusiness Corporations
Animals – Animal Rights
Corporate Farming (Restrictions on Corporate Farming/Family Farm Preservation)
Environmental Issues
Farm Labor
Farmer-Processor Bargaining – Production Contracts
Land Use Regulation
Livestock and Packers & Stockyards
Veterinary Law

Reference Resources

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

National Research Program: Animal Production and Protection
National Research Program: Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Publication: Agricultural Phosphorus and Eutrophication (2003)
News & Events: Avian Influenza

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

National Animal Identification System
Publications: Animal Health

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Key Topics: Animal Products
Key Topics: Manure Management
Key Topics: Farm Structure and Organization
Briefing Room: Animal Production and Marketing Issues
Briefing Room: Aquaculture
Briefing Room: Cattle
Briefing Room: Hogs
Briefing Room: Poultry and Eggs
Briefing Room: Farm Structure & Organization

ERS Recommended Readings:

Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2003 (2006)
Managing Manure to Improve Air and Water Quality (2005)
Improving Air and Water Quality Can Be Two Sides of the Same Coin (2005)
Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy, and Grain Processing Industries (2005)
Manure Management for Water Quality (2003)
Economic and Structural Relationships in U.S. Hog Production (2003)
Manure Management for Water Quality: Costs to Animal Feeding Operations of ApplyingAnimal Manure Nutrients to Land (2003)
The Changing Landscape of U.S. Milk Production (2002)
Confined Animal Production and Manure Nutrients (2001)
Change in U.S. Livestock Production, 1969-92 (1997)

Environmental Protection Agency

National Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center (NACAC)
NACAC: Animal Feeding Operations
Animal Feeding Operations: Compliance & Enforcement
National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit: Agriculture
NPDES: Animal Feeding Operations
Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations (EPA/USDA)
Animal Feeding Operations Air Agreement
EPA Topic: Water

Clean Water Act Information
Clean Air Act Information
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Information
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

National Emphasis Area: Animals and Animal Products
Topics: Environment
Programs: Manure & Nutrient Management

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Technical Resources: Animal Feeding Operations
Technical Resources: Nutrient Management
Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations Cost Assessment
Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Congressional Resources

U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

U.S. House Committee on AgricultureReports on AFOs and CAFOs (Government Accountability Office)

Climate Change Science: High Quality Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data are a Cornerstone of Programs to Address Climate Change (GAO-09-423T)

CAFOs: EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern (GAO-08-944)

Other Federal Resources

National Center for Environmental Health: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (Centers for Disease Control)

Animal Feeding Operations: Effects on Hydrologic Resources and the Environment (U.S. Geological Survey)

Toxic Substances Hydrology Program: Animal Feeding Operations (U.S. Geological Survey)

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration Assessments of the Cattle and Hog IndustriesNational Agricultural Library

National Agricultural Statistics Service

Livestock and Animals


General Practitioner’s Guide to Livestock Production and Manure Management Plans in Iowa (Epley, 2008)

Legal Liability Issues for Handling Manure (Hall, OH St. Ext., 2007)

Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Air Quality Study (U. of IA, 2003)

Air Emissions From Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs (National Academies Press, 2003)

Additional Resources

Animal Feeding Operations Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

State Regulation of Animal Feeding Operations: Seven State Summaries

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (Nat’l Conf. of State Legislatures)

Environment, Energy, and Resources Section (American Bar Association)

Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Animal Feeding Operations

Nutrient Management Planning with Animal Feeding Operations (Alabama Cooperative Extension Service)