Iowa Producers Ahead of Curve on New Federal Livestock Rules

January 13th, 2003

AMES, Iowa — Many Iowa producers already are in compliance with new federal regulations on large livestock operations, said John Lawrence, associate economics professor in the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and director of the Iowa Beef Center.

"While Iowa's larger livestock producers will face some additional costs and paperwork, many already have adopted the newly required management practices or will be able to do so in the time allotted," Lawrence said.

"Iowa already has in place regulations that meet or exceed many of the new federal standards, so our producers are ahead of the curve," Lawrence said. "More operations will have to apply for permits, and they will need to develop and implement nutrient management plans. This will provide an opportunity to enhance how Iowa producers protect the environment, especially water quality."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the new rules governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) under the nation's Clean Water Act. Lawrence recently attended an EPA workshop in Kansas City where the rules were outlined.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials have told producers not to expect any immediate changes in Iowa rules or legislation as a result of the federal changes. A group made up of producers and environmental and farm group representatives will work with DNR and Iowa State University personnel to study the rules and determine how they mesh with existing Iowa law. Iowa has up to two years to implement any changes.

The federal rules increase state flexibility on environmental issues, which was a request Iowa State officials had made during the public-comment period on the proposed rules. "State-specific regulations can more effectively target local issues and local environmental threats and conditions than national regulations," Lawrence said. "The new federal rules complement Iowa's existing livestock regulations."

Lawrence said Iowa State personnel can help Iowa producers evaluate their operations and review options if they do need to make changes to meet the new regulations.

The originally proposed regulations would have redefined a CAFO to include smaller livestock operations. The final rules did not include this change. "Reducing the size of regulated facilities would have posed a significant burden on many of Iowa's smaller facilities, with little environmental benefit," Lawrence said.

Even though the size of CAFOs regulated wasn't reduced, the new rules will affect more operations because large open feedlots and poultry operations now are covered.


John Lawrence, Economics, (515) 294-6290
Susan Thompson, Communications Service, (515) 294-0705