By implementing appropriate BMPs an AFO will help reduce the impact to water quality from winter feeding areas, pasture, and range. As long as the appropriate BMPs are being implemented, especially within the confinement areas, and there is not a discharge to surface or ground water, a CAFO permit is not required. Operations that implement BMPs to protect riparian health can significantly reduce impacts from polluted run-off (this may include moving heavy-use areas away from surface water).
A pasture-based operation, where animals wander freely to and from areas for food and shelter, is not considered an AFO. Neither is a vegetated pasture where the feeding or watering areas are devoid of vegetation. However, some pasture- and grazing – based operations may have confinement areas that qualify as an AFO. Incidental vegetation, such as weeds, in a clear area of confinement, such as a feedlot or pen, would not exclude an operation from meeting the definition of an AFO.
In the case of a winter-feeding situation, the “no vegetation” criteria in the AFO definition is to be evaluated during the winter. Therefore, use of a winter feeding area to grow crops or other vegetation during periods of the year when animals are not present would not exclude the area from meeting the definition of an AFO, if animals are confined in the area for more than 45 days in a 12-month period.
Conversely, a feeding area in a pasture that does not confine the animals (i.e., gate is open) and allows free access to rangeland or pasture would not qualify as a confined feeding area and would not be consider- ed an AFO, regardless of the surface condition of the lot. However, the responsibility remains to protect surface and ground water from such an operation.
Assessing Your Operation
Use the following decision process to identify if your pasture or grazing operation could require a permit. This decision process is shown graphically on page 3.
Step 1. Is any field where animals spend time devoid of vegetation? If the field is not cropped or maintains vegetation, this area may be considered a confined feeding area.
Step 2. Are animals confined for more than 45 days during any 12-month period? If livestock are not kept in the confined area for more than 45 days, they would not be considered an AFO. Confinement of more than 45 days would define the operation as an AFO. For the purposes of this determination, any part of a day counts as a whole day.