Utah's Environment: 2012: Cleaner Water: Animal Feeding Operations
The Animal Feeding Operations/Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (AFO/CAFO) Committee is a partnership of DWQ, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, the Utah Farm Bureau, the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, Utah State University (USU) Extension, the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the EPA (Region 8), and Utah's animal producer groups.
In 2001, the AFO/CAFO Committee developed the Utah Strategy which is a compliance assistance agreement to help animal feeding operations comply with environmental regulations to improve water quality. AFOs and CAFOs are animal production facilities where animals are confined, such as dairies and feedlots.
On December 31, 2008, the original Utah Strategy expired, prompting a new draft strategy to be prepared to continue the Utah Strategy work. DWQ has entered into two agreements to provide funding to the Utah Farm Bureau and the Utah Association of Conservation Districts to continue compliance assistance. Also, DWQ entered into a contract with USU Extension to provide educational outreach to AFOs and CAFOs in the state to implement the Utah Strategy.
Working through the Utah Strategy and the new contracts, experts of the AFO/CAFO Committee partnership provide assistance to AFOs and CAFOs through compliance and technical assistance. The agricultural partners prepare nutrient management plans, help design new waste containment structures, and assist in the implementation of proper management practices at AFOs and CAFOs. The partners assist producers in obtaining cost-share funding to address manure management problems.
By December 31, 2008, over 3,000 facilities had been assessed. Of those, 393 were AFOs with compliance problems. Since that time, 98 percent of the AFOs with compliance problems are reported to have had management plans prepared and 92 percent are in full compliance.
In early 2013, DWQ will amend Utah Administrative Code and will issue a new Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System CAFO General Permit to reflect the Federal CAFO rule changes as required. Compliance assistance and educational outreach will be provided by DWQ and the agricultural partners. This will include compliance worksheets for producers, educational workshops throughout the state, and information on the USU Producer's Web site.
Although more work is imminent, the Utah Strategy, AFO/CAFO Committee, and the agricultural partnership have thus far been successful in improving water quality in Utah by reducing water quality impacts from AFOs and CAFOs. This success is a result of cooperation and commitment by Utah's environmental and agricultural agencies and organizations and to address water quality concerns.
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