Swine farms, key factors of IEPA livestock rules

What you need to know to make sure your operation complies with regulations.

A variety of factors determine whether swine operations must comply with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency livestock rules. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)
A variety of factors determine whether swine operations must comply with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency livestock rules. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)
By Kay Shipman

Editor’s note: FarmWeek is highlighting applications of livestock rules to Illinois swine, beef and dairy operations.   

Illinois Farm Bureau wants to help farmers who raise hogs better understand Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) livestock rules, whether those rules apply to their farms and related best management practices.

The most recent version of IEPA’s livestock rules took effect in August 2014.

Question: Do the regulations apply to my hog farm?

Answer: That depends on several factors. First, does your hog farm meet both parts of an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) definition?

Those include:

- A lot or facility where hogs have been, are or will be confined and fed or maintained for at least 45 days in any 12-month period.

- No vegetation, including crops, forage or crop residue, is sustained during a normal growing season on any part of the lot or facility.

In most Illinois situations where hogs are raised, the farm likely will meet the AFO definition, and IEPA rules apply to AFOs.

Next, determine if an AFO meets the definition of a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). The actual number of hogs – not facility capacity – is one factor.

A farm would be defined as a large CAFO if it confines 2,500 or more pigs weighing at least 55 pounds, or 10,000 or more pigs weighing less than 55 pounds on a single site. If a farm has both sizes, the pigs aren’t added together; the determination hinges on whether one group or the other meets the threshold.

A farm would be defined as a medium CAFO if it discharges pollutants into a water of the U.S. and meets a size threshold. Those thresholds are: 750 to 2,499 hogs weighing 55 or more pounds, or 3,000 to 9,000 pigs weighing less than 55 pounds.

When determining if there are any discharges, a farmer must consider the entire production area, including manure storage, feed storage and dead animal composting.    

A farm would be defined as a small CAFO if it meets either threshold and a discharge definition. The size thresholds are: up to 749 hogs weighing 55 or more pounds, or up to 2,999 pigs weighing less than 55 pounds.

IEPA must conduct an on-site investigation to determine if a small AFO makes significant pollutant contribution to waters of the U.S. On a case-by-case basis, a small AFO may be given an opportunity to correct any problem that might cause a discharge.

Common ownership is another factor that may influence whether a farm meets a CAFO definition. If a farmer, partnership, company or corporation owns more than one site with confined hogs, consider if those sites meet IEPA’s definition of a single AFO.

IEPA would consider two or more AFOs under common ownership as a single entity if the sites are adjacent to each other, or use a common area or system for handling or disposing of manure.

IEPA lacks an official definition of adjacent, but likely scenarios include barns located in close proximity, sharing a common border, across the road from each other or sharing a contiguous parcel of land.

Examples of common manure handling include transfer and storage of manure from one facility several miles from another one and spreading of manure from separate farms on the same field.

Q: Where do I go for more information?

A: The Illinois Agricultural Coalition, which includes IFB, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Milk Producers’ Association and Illinois Pork Producers Association, developed resource guides available in swine, beef and dairy editions. The guides clarify and simplify IEPA rules and identify best management practices.

For more information or to obtain a free resource guide, email Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, at llurkins@ilfb.org. 

Q: If the regulations apply to me, is it easy to understand or do I need to hire someone?

A: Lurkins said the Swine Resource Guide is a good first step to help farmers become familiar with the rules, but does not take the place of hiring an engineer consultant or an attorney. 

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