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 (excluding 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

Farm Systems Reform Act, S. 2332, H.R. 4221
Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) 7 U.S.C. §§ 181–229c
Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018
Federal Water Pollution Control Act (the Clean Water Act) 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1388
Federal Air Pollution and Control Act (the Clean Air Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7401-7671q
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) 42 U.S.C. §§ 11001-11050
Compilation of States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes
Compilation of States’ Right-To-Farm Statutes


PSA Regulations

9 C.F.R. pt. 201 Regulations Under the PSA
9 C.F.R. pt. 202 Rules of Practice Governing Proceedings Under the PSA
9 C.F.R. pt. 203 Statements of General Policy Under the PSA
9 C.F.R. pt. 206 Swine Contract Library

CAFO Regulatory Documents (EPA)

EPA Animal Feeding Operations Clean Water Act Regulations

40 C.F.R. pts. 122
40 C.F.R. pts. 123

EPA Clean Air Act Regulations

40 C.F.R. pt. 52 State Implementation Plan Regulations
40 C.F.R. Part 70 State Operating Permit Regulations
 40 C.F.R. Part 71 Federal Operating Permit Regulations

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. pt. 355

Case Law

Case Law Index for Animal Feeding Operations

Administrative Law Decisions

EPA Office of Administrative Law Judges
Environmental Appeals Board
Center-published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality: Recent Litigation in the United States (Essman, Hivick, 2020)
Issue Brief: Organization for Competitive Markets Seeks Judicial Review of USDA’s GIPSA Rule Withdrawal (Lizano, E. Rumley, 2018)
Issue Brief: Smithfield Foods and Right to Farm in North Carolina (Rumley, 2018)Issue Brief: Petition for Policy Change in FSIS’ “Product of U.S.A.” Label (Lizano, Rumley, 2018)
Cattle Traceability: Potential Legal Implications (Rumley & Dowell)
The Veterinary Feed Directive Rules for Veterinarians: A Practical Guide for the Practicing Veterinarian  (Roasa, 2016)
Legal Issues in Animal Agriculture: Medication, Identification and Accommodations (E. Rumley)
States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes (E. Rumley, 2009)
The Clean Water Authority Restoration Act: A Primer of Background Material (Goeringer & Rumley, 2009)
States’ Right-To-Farm Statutes (NALC Staff, 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

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects– published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

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 Disease Preparedness and Response Program
National Animal Identification System
Publications: Animal Health

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Animal Products
Manure Management
Farm Structure and Organization
Animal Policy and Regulatory Issues
Cattle and Beef
Hogs and Pork
Poultry and Eggs

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 Applying Animal 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 (EPA)

CERCLA and EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms
Compendium of State Permits and Programs
COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program
Laws and Regulations that Apply to Your Agricultural Operation by Statute
NPDES CAFO Permitting
NPDES eReporting
Inspections of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
National Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center (NACAC)
National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit around the Nation
Air Monitoring at Agricultural Operations
Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations (EPA/USDA)
EPA Topic: Water
Managing Manure Nutrients at CAFOs 
Clean Water Act Information
Clean Air Act Information
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Information
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information

Government Accountability Office: Agriculture and Food

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

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

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Manure Management
Technical Resources: Animal Feeding Operations
Technical Resources: Manure and 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 Agriculture
U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Reports on AFOs (House Bill Report No. ESSB 5889)(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

Menu of State Laws Regarding Odors Produced by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (Centers for Disease Control)
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)
Assessments of the Cattle and Hog Industries Year 2000 (USDA)
National Agricultural Statistics Service


Farm System Reform Act: Title-by-Title Summary
Animal Feeding Operations and Residential Value: Summary of Literature (U. Mo. Ext)
More States Are Restricting Who Can Sue Agricultural Operations (Moon, 2019)
Manure Management for Climate Change Mitigation: Regulating CAFO Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Clean Air Act (Tomas, 2019)
Recordkeeping & Inspections for Animal Feeding Operations (MT State U. Ext. 2017)
Economic Analysis Impact (Dept. of Ecology State of Washington, 2016)
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations—Civil Litigation: Common Law and Clean Water Act Claims (Knauf, 2012)
The Association between Proximity to Animal Feeding Operations and Community Health: A Systematic Review (O’Connor, 2010)
Manure Management Plan – A Step by Step Guide for Minnesota Feedlot Operators (U. of MN, Ext., 2010)
Nuisances from Animal Feeding Operations: Reconciling Agricultural Production and Neighboring Property Rights (Centner, 2006)
Impacts of Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Water Quality (Burkholder, et al. 2006)
Ohio Livestock Manure Management Guide (OH St, Ext., 2006)
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

Farm System Reform Act Introduced
AFO/CAFO Information (Utah State U. Ext.)
Animal Feeding Operations Rules and Regulations (N. Dakota State U.)
Animal Feeding Operations Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
State Regulation of Animal Feeding Operations: Seven State Summaries
Agriculture and Rural Development (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 for Broiler Animal Feeding Operations (Alabama Cooperative Extension Service)