A Review of Selected Jurisdictions and Their Approach to Regulating Intensive Farming Operationst

Current as of: May 23, 2003

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Background
  3. Scope of the Review
  4. Canadian Jurisdictions
  5. American Jurisdictions
  6. European Jurisdictions


Executive Summary

A scan of selected North American and European jurisdictions revealed a number of similarities as well as a number of differences in legislation in place or proposed to address to environmental, economic and socio-political issues surrounding intensive agricultural operations. Common features among most of the jurisdictions considered are as follows:

  • Stricter accounting of nutrient use, whether through the preparation of a nutrient management plan (North America) or a farm-level nutrient input/output budget (Europe) is a core element in most programs.
  • In all but one jurisdiction reviewed, livestock and concerns over manure (odour, nutrients etc.) were the dominant reasons for requiring legislation related to intensive farming operations. California was the exception.
  • Alternative manure processing technologies were not found to be a significant tool used to address nutrient and odour concerns around manure management. The exception is Denmark, where biogas production is a significant component of their manure management approach. It took significant research and development for Denmark to achieve this level of success. Also, North Carolina recognizes lagoon treatment technology as a key factor that has contributed to their present situation, and is actively searching for economic alternatives to this technology that would provide a more sustainable base for livestock production. As a result jurisdictions, like North Carolina in the US and Nova Scotia in Canada are creating environments that support technological innovation.
  • There is a growing level of legislation around the construction, inspection and monitoring of manure storage systems to ensure they do not leak. Monitoring of nutrient budgets (nutrient plans), in general, is more intense in Europe at present than in North America. Periodic auditing or random monitoring of NMPs is becoming more commonplace in Canada.
  • Essentially all jurisdictions strongly discourage the spreading of manure during the winter season or on frozen ground. Many jurisdictions go as far as stating specific periods in the year when manure or fertilizer cannot be spread, but will often provide a caveat in the event of an emergency situation.
  • While many jurisdictions reviewed have established legislation aimed at "intense operations", ALL jurisdictions have established and encourage all farmers, regardless of production size, to follow codes of practice for proper manure use.

A number of differences among jurisdictions were also noted. Key differences are identified as follows:

  • The definition of animal unit (AU) or livestock unit (LU) was not consistent among jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions base the value primarily on total animal weight, some base it on weight and manure nitrogen excreted by the animal, while others base it on a complex evaluation of animal weight, manure nitrogen production and odour factors.

  • The thresholds for defining an intensive livestock operation vary among jurisdictions. The largest variation is found among Canadian provinces. There is less variation in the US due to the fact that confined animal feeding operations are defined by the federal US-EPA. In Europe, the definition hinges more on land capacity of the operation than solely on livestock numbers. For example, producers exceeding a certain livestock unit density (LU’s/ha) are required by regulations to abide by certain rules or refrain from certain manure management activities.
  • The standards for acceptable nitrate levels in groundwater are similar among jurisdictions. How the standard is presented, however, is not consistent. Nitrate concentrations can be expressed as NO3 or as NO3-N. In Europe, the limit is generally expressed in terms of the allowable concentration of NO3 while in North America, it is generally expressed as the allowable concentration of NO3-N. Thus the European limit, which matches the World Health Organization limit, is 50 ppm (ie: 11.3 PPM NO3-N). In North America, the limit is 10 PPM NO3-N. Some North American jurisdictions like California may express this limit in terms of nitrate as 45 PPM nitrate which is approximately 10 PPM NO3-N.
  • The minimum manure storage capacity requirement to be met varies among jurisdictions, depending on the length of the non-growing season.
  • There is disparity among regions as to the level of support farmers receive to address pollution concerns. In general, European producers and American producers receive a higher degree of direct financial and or technical assistance to address environmental issues at the farm level.

There are a few key jurisdictions that Ontario may find beneficial in reviewing in more detail:

  • Alberta: While this province is still in the process of establishing legislation concerning intensive livestock production, many of the issues being addressed are similar. The weakness is that there is no experience with the proposed legislation to assess its effectiveness.

  • Minnesota: Like Alberta, this state is in the process of developing new legislation related to intensive livestock operations. Experience with their earlier legislation combined with their recognition for the need to enhance municipal level permitting and enforcement programs, however, could prove valuable to building an Ontario model

1.0 Background

    Ten days of public consultation were held in Ontario during January and February 2000 to discuss the main issues related to intensive agricultural operations and their rural community neighbours. The issues can be generally classified as environmental, economic or sociopolitical concerns. As was known prior to the consultations and pointed out throughout the consultation process, Ontario is not the only jurisdiction presently dealing with such issues. This report summarizes the findings of a review of how selected jurisdictions, identified specifically in the course of the consultation process, are presently dealing with issues surrounding the intensification of agriculture. The focus of this review was on legislative measures that have been taken to address the issues although, in many instances, it was also important to identify voluntary programs in place to reduce the environmental concerns related to intensive farming operations. Jurisdictions where municipal and state legislation was linked or complimentary to each other was identified. The role technology, particularly treatment technology, was playing to help address the issues were also highlighted where significant.

2.0 Scope of the Review

This review investigated existing or proposed legislation intended to regulate intensive farming operations in the following Canadian jurisdictions:

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba
  • Quebec
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia

A similar review was conducted to identify intensive farming operation legislation and control measures in place or proposed in the following US states:

  • North Carolina
  • California
  • Texas
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Pennsylvania

Further but less detailed information is also provided in this report for a number of other major livestock producing states.

As well, a review of the primary pieces of legislation in Europe, intended to reduce agriculturally derived pollution concerns, was also completed specifically for the Netherlands and Denmark. Similar but less detailed information was also summarized for the European countries of Germany, Switzerland and England.

The review presented herein focuses on a number of key questions, namely:

    How does the jurisdiction define intensive farming operations?
    Is there legislation in place to address issues around intensive agriculture?
    If legislation is in place, how long has it been in force, who administers the legislation and what are the key features of the legislation?
    How are municipalities involved in regulating intensive agricultural operations?
    Who are potential contacts that could provide further information on jurisdictional experience?

The intent of this document is to summarize unique features and circumstances that exist in the various jurisdictions reviewed to gain a better understanding of how the experiences in these other jurisdictions may be applicable to the Ontario setting.

3.0 Canadian Jurisdictions

Overlying Federal Legislation

The Fisheries Act is the primary federal act that can address pollution concerns arising from farming operations. This Act stipulates that fish-ways may not be damaged or obstructed. The Act prohibits the dumping of potentially harmful substances including fertilizer, pesticide runoff, fuel, manure, and suspended solids into waterways that are or may be frequented by fish. Unlike the US, no federal agency in Canada has defined or set rules specific to the operation and permitting of intensive livestock operation.

Provincial Activities

A recent review of Canadian approaches to addressing concerns related to odour and water quality was completed by Caldwell and Toombs (1999). Their paper summarized the approaches presently in place in Canada’s 10 provinces. Table 1 in the Caldwell and Toombs paper, and which is reproduced below, provides a quick comparative overview of these provincial approaches. The sections that follow expand on and update the information described in the Caldwell and Toombs paper for Canada’s main livestock-producing provinces.

In reviewing the Canadian material, it became apparent that the definitions of ILO’s depend to some extent on how an Animal Unit (AU) is defined in that province. There is no consistency across the country in defining an animal unit. In fact, in Ontario, it is purposely termed "Livestock Unit" (LU) to emphasize that this unit was developed for odour calculation purposes and is not related solely to manure N production. The variability in definitions of AU is demonstrated in material compiled by Ecologistics Limited (1997) which shows, in table format, AUs or LUs used in various provinces for separation distance purposes versus AUs used to refer to manure production.

Table 1. Approach to Addressing Intensive Livestock Operations By Province
Legal and Jurisdictional Context Quebec Ontario Manitoba
Is there specific legislation? Environmental Quality Act No  
Are there provincial strategies/policies? Yes Yes  
Do programs focus on livestock only? Livestock/crops Livestock Focus  
What is the key provincial department? Environment Agriculture  
Are provincial approvals required? Yes No  
Standards for siting intensive livestock operations (general applicability)
Legal and Jurisdictional Context Quebec Ontario Manitoba
Building permits/zoning Prov. Leg., Municipal implementation Prov. Leg., Municipal implementation Prov. Leg., Municipal implementation
Separation distances Legislation Prov. Policy, Municipal Implementation Provincial guideline (implemented by some mun.)
Manure storage (structure/capacity) 250 days (legislation) 240 days (Prov. Strategy) some municipal implementation Dept. of Env. Approvals required above 400 AU.
Environmental studies Yes No Required by some mun.
Mandatory public meetings/notification No No Required by many mun.
Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) Yes Prov. Strategy, implemented by some municipalities Yes
3rd party review of submissions Yes (government) Yes -
Who can complete NMP Agrologist Farmers (some municipalities require consultants) -
Approach to enforcement Fines – complaint driven Local Ag. Review Committee (some municipalities try to enforce) Random Audits
Register land for nutrient application Yes Some mun. considering -
Prohibit winter manure application Yes No Yes for large operations
Limitations on livestock densities/total size Indirectly through agro-environmental fertilization plan Indirectly through NMP Indirectly through NMP
Landbase requirements for spreading Indirectly through agro-environmental fertilization plan NMP NMP
Thresholds defining large 75 LU 150 LU 400 LU (200 LU some mun.)


Table 1 (continued): Approach to Addressing Intensive Livestock Operations By Province
Legal and Jurisdictional Context Saskatchewan Alberta (current) British Columbia
Is there specific legislation? Agricultural Operations Act No No
Are there provincial strategies/policies? Yes Yes Yes
Do programs focus on livestock only? Livestock Livestock Both (mushroom, greenhouse)
What is the key provincial department? Agriculture Agriculture Environment, Agriculture
Are provincial approvals required? Yes No No
Legal and Jurisdictional Context Saskatchewan Alberta (current) British Columbia
Standards for siting intensive livestock operations (general applicability)
Building permits/zoning Prov. Legislation, Municipal requirement Yes Prov. Legislation, Municipal requirement
Separation distances Yes – where applied by mun. Yes(municipal implementation) Manure storage – watercourses
Manure storage (structure/capacity) 180 days 180 days (varies by livestock) 150 days
Environmental studies - Yes No
Mandatory public meetings/notification Yes (recommended under guidelines) In some municipalities No
Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) Yes Yes No
3rd party review of submissions By government - -
Who can complete NMP Anyone - -
Approach to enforcement Complaint driven Peer Review, Stop Order (Mun. Government Act) -
Register land for nutrient application No - No
Prohibit winter manure application No Yes as per Code of Practice(some mun. implementation) Indirectly (waste management)
Limitations on livestock densities/total size Indirectly NMP Indirectly NMP No
Landbase requirements for spreading NMP NMP No (spreading guidelines)
Thresholds defining large 300 LU Varies by livestock (some Municipalities.) NA

Source: Caldwell, Wayne J. and Michael Toombs. 1999. Rural Planning, The Community and Large Livestock Facilities: An Across-Canada Checkup. Presentation at the Canadian Institute of Planners Annual Conference, Montreal.


3.1 British Columbia

How is Intensive Farming Defined?

There was no specific definition given of intensive farming or intensive livestock production found for B.C.

Provincial Legislation:

The Code of Practice for Waste Management as part of the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation, which is part of the Waste Management Act (BC Reg. 131/92)

Administered By: BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.

Status: Enacted in 1992.

Overview of Legislation:

The Agricultural Waste Control Regulation refers to an attached Code of Agricultural Practice for Waste Management. In general, the purpose of the regulation is to ensure that agricultural waste and dead livestock are collected, handled, used and disposed of in accordance with the Code and in a manner that prevents pollution. Livestock producers who conform to the Code do not require a Waste Management permit. The Code is relatively general as it prescribes specifications for manure storage, handling and application. Key elements are as follows:

  • This regulation applies to all agricultural operations. It has no specific reference to intensive livestock operations.
  • Manure storage facilities must be of sufficient capacity to store all waste produced until such time as it can be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner. Storage facilities must be sited, designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to prevent any escape of livestock waste that may cause pollution.
  • There are provisions in the Code for existing storage facilities. Those that do not meet setback requirements at the time the regulation was enacted, can remain in use if it is demonstrated that they are not polluting any watercourse or domestic water supply. Expansion is permitted only if all requirements of the new regulation are met.
  • Solid waste may be stored for up to nine months if set back from watercourses or domestic water supply. Waste that is field stored must not escape and cause pollution. Where necessary, berms must be constructed to prevent waste escape.
  • There is no direct discharge of agricultural waste into surface water or groundwater.
  • Manure application to land is allowed only as a fertilizer or soil conditioner. Manure application is prohibited if due to meteorological, topographical or soil conditions, or the rate of application causes pollution of surface water, ground water or soil, or escapes from the boundary of the agricultural operation.
  • Manure application is prohibited on frozen land, saturated soil, and at rates that exceed crop requirements, if runoff or waste escape causes pollution to surface water, groundwater or soil, or goes beyond the farm boundary.
  • Seasonal and confined feeding areas must be set back from watercourses and domestic water supply. There are conditional provisions for direct access to watercourses, provided that the watercourse is not a source of water used for domestic purposes downstream, and that access is located and maintained as necessary to prevent pollution.

    Permanent confined feeding areas that do not meet setback requirements at the time the regulation was enacted, can remain in use if it is demonstrated that they are not polluting any watercourse or domestic water supply. Expansion is permitted only if all requirements of the new regulation are met.

Municipal Legislation:

Few municipalities in BC have enacted by-laws regulating livestock production.

The Fish Protection Act (1997) included measures to strengthen the powers of local governments to protect the environment, especially fish habitat. Localized planning was strengthened by:

Environmental policies:
Authorizing local governments to include environmental policies in Official Community Plans.

Development permit areas:
Using the designation of development permit areas in Official Community Plans to protect the natural environment.

Environmental information & security deposits:
Enabling local governments to require, for environmental reasons, development approval information and security deposits before issuing development permits.

Environmental conditions on development permits:
Strengthening local governments' ability to protect fish and fish habitat by allowing them to place environmental protection measures on development permits and zoning amendments.

Protecting water quality & managing stormwater runoff:
Giving local governments improved powers to protect water quality by requiring better stormwater management practices.

While pollution from agricultural sources is not targeted specifically in this enabling legislation it could certainly be used by a municipality to control the expansion of intensive farming activities particularly if it influenced riparian areas.


For more information contact British Colombia's Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks


3.2 Alberta

How is Intensive Farming Defined?

In Alberta, an Intensive Livestock Operation (ILO) is: an operation where the number of animals in confinement on the farm equals or exceeds the threshold of 300 animal units (AUs) and where the livestock are confined at a density of 43 animal units per acre for greater than 90 consecutive days and the producer has to manage the manure generated by the livestock in confinement.

An AU is defined in Alberta as: the number of animals of a particular category of livestock that will excrete 73 kg (160 lbs.) of total nitrogen in a 12-month period.

Provincial Legislation: Sustainable Livestock Operations Act

Administered By: Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

(Note: they investigated the possibility of incorporating this new legislation into existing legislation, but in end have proposed to establish a new piece of legislation).

Status: This is still Proposed legislation.

Overview of Legislation (as proposed):

This legislation has been in development since March of 1998. A series of steps were taken to ensure communication with stakeholders. The process has now resulted in the preparation (by an established Expert Committee) of a third discussion package including draft regulations, draft legislation and a draft standards document . This material was distributed in October, 1999 with comments to be received in November, 1999. Some key points are:

  • New and expanding facilities > 300 AU in size have to apply for an approval to AAFRD prior to construction. There is a maximum 6-month review process.
  • The applicant has to prepare a number of materials for the application package including engineered plans, findings from a hydro-geologic investigation, concerns raised by persons notified of the applicant’s intent.
  • Prior to submission, the applicant is required to notify all persons who reside or own lands within a certain radius of the proposed building/expansion site. For example, if proposed site is to have 501 to 1000 AUs, then the developer must notify a 1 mile radius.
  • Manure is to be incorporated within 48 hrs (unless on direct seeded or forage land.
  • Need 9 months storage and can’t spread on frozen ground unless get approval from AAFRD. You would apply for this approval providing supporting evidence. The legislation strongly discourages spreading from Nov 1 through April 1.
  • Storage facilities need to meet a range of technical specifications including a minimum separation distance from high water table level, minimum hydraulic conductivity of liner materials, minimum 0.5 ft freeboard required, prevention of surface run-on and run-off. An engineer is required to verify that the storage facility meets applicable construction standards. The standards document identifies standards to be followed for liquid, solid, feedlots, feedlot catchbasins, and seasonal feeding sites.
  • On the nutrient management side, soil sampling (for mineral N, P and salinity) must be done by a recommended method and no manure spreading is allowed if fall soil sampling indicates greater that 45-90 lbs/ac (depending on OM content) nitrate-N is present in coarse-textured soils or 180 lbs N/ac is in medium to fine-textured soils, all OM levels.
  • Similar restrictions are established if soil tests reveal high salinity.
  • Manure, regardless of site need, cannot be applied at a rate exceeding 176 lbs. mineral N or 540 lbs. total N applied.
  • Minimum separation distances from watercourses when spreading manure are specified in the legislation.
  • Records are to be kept of when, where and how much manure is to be applied. This is to verify that the NMP is being followed. If a complaint is raised, inspectors assigned by AAFRD can ask to see records.

Proposed Phase-in Period: While existing livestock operations do not need to apply for approval they must register with AAFRD by January 31, 2003. Agricultural operations that are currently using manure will have 3 years to comply with the proposed manure management regulations (so can acquire additional storage, landbase etc. in order to comply)

Compliance and Enforcement of the Legislation: A voluntary Peer Review process is the first and preferred method of enforcement. In event of failure, or emergencies or where serious violations occur, an Administrative Order can be issued.

The Agriculture Minister appoints between 3 and 7 people to form an Appeal Board. Maximum term on board is 6 years. $100 application fee for all appeals.

Municipal Legislation:

The municipal development approval and appeal process is maintained as per Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. Therefore Alberta municipalities will continue to define intensive livestock operations in their land use bylaws and continue to determine if such a proposed land use is permitted in each land use district. The standards municipalities set, however, cannot conflict or overlap with the standards of the proposed provincial acts and regulations. So, for instance, municipalities would no longer address issues of minimum storage capacity requirements, thickness requirements of liners, manure incorporation restrictions etc.

For more information: Alberta's Intensive Livestock Operations Report


3.3 Saskatchewan

How is Intensive Farming Defined?

In Saskatchewan, an Intensive Livestock Operation (ILO) means the confining of any of the following animals, where the space per animal unit (AU) is less than 370 square metres: poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, fallow deer, bison, or any other prescribed animals.

An AU is defined in Saskatchewan similar to the way it is defined in Alberta.

Only ILOs that meet one or more of the following criteria are required to obtain approved waste storage plans and manure management plans:

  • Utilizes an earthen manure storage area
  • Involves rearing, confining or feeding of 300 or more animal units.
  • Confines more than 20 animal units for more than 10 days in any 30-day period, and is within 300 metres of surface water or 30 m of a domestic water well not controlled by the operator.

(ILOs that meet these criteria could possibly be classified as "Large" ILOs.)

Provincial Legislation:

Agricultural Operations Act

(Deals with nuisance issues similar to Ontario’s FFPPA (ie: nuisance) , but goes on to include provisions specific to ILOs for the purpose of protecting groundwater and surface water by proper management of manure and animal waste.)

Administered By: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and Food (SAF)

Status: Enacted in 1995.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

The review and approval of an ILO’s waste management plan is led by SAF.

They distribute the application to review agencies based on predetermined triggers for review and comment. Agencies may include: The municipality where being built, Saskatchewan Water Corporation, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM). Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation, Saskatchewan Municipal Government, Saskatchewan Health. These agencies identify any local environmental concerns not addressed in the application and any regulatory requirements their agency may have.

Whenever an Application for Approval is received that has > 1000 AUs, or where environmental sensitivities exist, SERM is asked to review. In this way, the proposal may be subject to the province’s EAA and may require the preparation of an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). The Document in Appendix D entitled, "Information Guidelines for the Approval of Intensive Hog Operations" gives a good description of what a complete application that could go through a SERM review would require.

Any employee with SAF can be designated as an ILO inspector. The inspectors are charged with enforcing the provisions of the Act. If it is found that the operation is not following the waste storage or management plan, then fines can be levied.

This Act does not supersede or negate the need for any other approvals at municipal level or within other provincial ministries.

Municipal Legislation:

Municipalities can define permitted and conditional uses of lands within their jurisdiction. Few municipalities in Saskatchewan have enacted bylaws regulating livestock production. Some municipal bylaws may require specific public notification or meetings to describe a proposed development such as an ILO.

Most municipalities with land use bylaws will specify separation requirements for siting ILOs. If none are in effect, SAF gives some suggested minimum distance separation values.

For more information: Saskatchewan's Ministry of Agriculture and Food Livestock Info


3.4 Manitoba

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

In Manitoba, an Intensive Livestock Operation (ILO) is an operation that has greater than 400 animal units.

An AU is defined in Manitoba as the number of animals of a particular type that it takes to excrete 75 kgs. Of total nitrogen in a 12-month period. Examples of numbers that equal 400 AUs are as follows:

  • 320 sow farrow-to-finish operation
  • 200 dairy cows
  • 332 beef cattle
  • 40,000 laying hens

Provincial Legislation: Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation under the Environment Act

Administered By: Manitoba Environment

Status: Formally the Livestock Waste Regulation (1994). Revised to current Regulation in late 1998.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

In general Manitoba seems to be the least restrictive of ILOs of all the western provinces. Key points of their present legislation is as follows:

  • New or modified manure storage facilities now require a permit from Manitoba Environment prior to construction and once built, need to be certified by an engineer as being constructed according to siting requirements and engineering design standards before they can be used. (All storage types).
  • The 400 AU determination is NOT cumulative across animal types. Therefore animal units on mixed farms are not calculated by adding the animal units for the different types of animals found on the farm.
  • There is a ban on winter spreading between November 10 and April 15 for farms with > 400 AU. An exemption is possible under an emergency situation (eg. excessive rainfall). Farms with < 400 AU are exempt unless an environmental problem is identified.
  • Farms with > 400 AU have to prepare and register a NMP with the Director of Environment annually. Manitoba Agriculture staff can assist with their preparation. Manitoba Environment staff review the plans for environmental soundness. Farms with < 400 AU are exempt.
  • Plans are concerned with nitrogen application only. Phosphorus is not considered a problem (alkaline soils in general in Manitoba, tightly binding P).
  • Deadline for first filing of manure management plans (new operations) was Jan 1, 1999 and Nov 10, 1999 (existing operations).
  • Deadline for complying with winter spreading limitations for existing operations is November 1, 2003 and as soon as they come into production for new operations.
  • The regulation specifies setbacks from wells, surface watercourses and operation boundaries.

Municipal Legislation:

Municipalities define permitted and conditional uses of land. Some municipalities have enacted bylaws regulating livestock production, generally consistent with provincial legislation. There are some exceptions, however. For example, one municipality passed a by-law preventing the importation of manure generated in neighbouring counties. Some have passed bylaws excluding large livestock operations.

For more information: Manitoba's Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Livestock Information


3.5 Quebec

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

In Quebec, an Intensive Livestock Operation (ILO) is an operation that has more than 75 Livestock Units.

Certificates of Authorization, to construct or expand are NOT required if there will be 10 or less bovine animals on a liquid manure handling system, or, 30 or less bovine animals on a solid manure handling system or 50 or less of other types of livestock regardless of manure system type. A certificate is required for a Building, Yard or Storage facility expansion. A certificate is issued by the Ministry of the Environment upon approval.

AU’s used in Quebec are similar to other provinces but not identical. AU in Quebec is defined as the number of animals required to generate 500 kg live body weight.

Provincial Legislation:

Bill 23 (assented June 20, 1996) was an act that amended the following provincial legislation:

  • Act requesting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents
  • Act respecting land use planning and development
  • Act respecting the Agriculture, Fisheries and Resources Ministry
  • Act to preserve agricultural land
  • Environmental Quality Act
  • Act to Amend the Act to Preserve Agricultural Land

Administered By: Quebec Ministry of Environment

Status: The Regulations Respecting the Reduction of Pollution from Agricultural Sources came into force on July 3, 1997.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

Key points in the Quebec legislation are as follows:

  • 250 days (minimum) manure storage required. For facilities built before July 3/97, minimum storage requirement is 200 days. Those not in compliance with new regulations had till January 1, 2000 to comply.
  • Facility must be emptied at least once/year.
  • A monitoring drain is to be installed beneath watertight facilities to ensure they are watertight.
  • From October 1,1998, manure placed in an area for a limited period of time (eg. barn) must be covered by a waterproof material.
  • Certain protected areas are identified within which environmentally detrimental changes to livestock or manure management activities are forbidden (eg. within the 20-year floodplain of a watercourse or lake).
  • Manure spreading rules established in this act include: no spreading on frozen ground (generally speaking the restriction period is between October 1 and March 31 of the next year with some exceptions), no aerial spreading (with an irrigation gun or cannon) as of October 1998.
  • Manure is to be spread according to an agro-environmental fertilization plan (prepared by a certified agronomist), Clearance zones are to be established for spreading relative to sensitive areas. Plan to cover up to 5 years.
  • After October, 1997, farmers that have completed a training course authorized by the Minister of Education in preparing an agro-environmental plan can prepare their own.
  • Additional restrictions on land excessively "rich" in phosphorus. (eg. no mineral fertilizer allowed either and plan to include a P reduction strategy).
  • Farms less than 40 livestock units may be exempt from preparing an agro-environmental fertilization plan
  • Timetable for implementation: in general those with higher risk are requested to do a plan sooner. Those with < 75 AU have 5 years to comply.
  • Record keeping is part of an agro-environmental fertilization plan. Registers of where the manure is being applied are to be kept so know where it is going.
  • Penalties are in place for violators.

Municipal Legislation:

Little information was obtained specific to the municipal role in the control of ILO’s. It appears that the Quebec approach was implemented with relatively little input from stakeholders prior to its implementation

For more information: Reduction of Pollution from Agricultural Sources


3.6 New Brunswick

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

An Intensive Livestock Operation is not specifically defined. The Livestock Operations Act, however, exempts the following livestock operations:

  • A livestock operation that does not house livestock
  • Livestock operations with < 20 livestock or < 200 poultry
  • Livestock operations that were in operation prior to commencement of the regulations (ie: before April 23, 1999). (Therefore the act applied to new systems only).

An AU is defined in New Brunswick as the number of livestock needed to produce sufficient manure to meet the nitrogen requirements of 0.4 hectares of hay land.

Provincial Legislation: Livestock Operations Act

Administered By: N.B. Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development

Status: Enacted Feb 26, 1998.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

  • A person cannot carry on a livestock operation unless the person holds a livestock operations license.
  • A license application needs to include a completed form, a site development plan, a description of the manure system to be used, a manure nutrient management plan (that has been prepared by an agrologist registered under the Agrologists Act), a copy of the watercourse alteration permit (if applicable) and any other pertinent information. Specifics of what needs to be considered within these various components is described in the regulations.
  • 210 – 250 day (minimum) manure storage is required.
  • A manure management guidelines document suggests best practices for using the manure generated by a livestock facility.

Municipal Legislation:

Little information is available concerning experience at a municipal level. The Caldwell/Toombs paper suggests inconsistent municipal implementation of bylaws affecting ILOs. Certain areas may be receiving more development pressure and have had to address the problem more than others. (eg. areas bordering as fallout from the more restrictive laws adopted there in 1997).

For more information: New Brunswick's Livestock Operations Act


3.7 Nova Scotia

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

An Intensive Livestock Operation is not defined at a provincial scale. Individual municipalities, however, may define an ILO however. For example, in the Municipality of the County of Antigonish the definition of an ILO is: "an operation consisting of only one type of livestock in which a minimum of 30 animal units are confined to feedlots, structures or poultry facilities for feeding, breeding, milking or holding for eventual sale or egg production".

The same bylaw also gives definitions of AU.

Provincial Legislation: No legislation exists specific to ILOs or nutrient management. The Agricultural Operations Protection Act concerns nuisance issues.

Administered By: Not Applicable

Status: Not Applicable

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

At present, the emphasis of the Nova Scotia Ministry of Agriculture seems to be on voluntary action to encourage farmers to follow BMPs with respect to manure management. There also seems to be a fair bit of research going on, particularly in the area of constructed wetland technology for the treatment of liquid farm manure/runoff/milkhouse waste.

Municipal Legislation:

Municipal by-laws regulate construction of livestock facilities (building permits). Location of livestock facilities may be controlled through by-laws. Not all areas have by-laws controlling agricultural development, however. This may simply be a function of need. No provincial standard is in place, resulting in varied rules among municipalities.

4.0 American Jurisdictions

From a national perspective, federal rules in the US specifically define large "concentrated animal feedlots" as point sources of pollution. This implies that they should be regulated under the same National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that issues permits for industrial and municipal wastewater discharges. A large concentrated animal feedlot under these rules is defined as having more than 1000 cattle, 2500 swine or 10,000 sheep.

From the federal perspective, farms smaller than the limits described above are also assumed to be prohibited from directly discharging pollutants to "navigable waters" (ie: acting as point discharges) unless they have a permit to do so. The exception is if the discharge is the consequence of a rainfall greater than the 25-year, 24-hour storm. Federal Law gives individual states the authority to administer a state program related to the permitting of industries susceptible to generating point source pollution. Many have done so as is described in the sub-sections below.

Typically, pollution from agricultural activity is often more appropriately classified as non-point source pollution (ie: polluted runoff from fields, feedlots etc.) Regulations controlling non-point source pollution control is largely left up to individual states.

The USDA and USEPA recently developed a draft "Unified Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations". The strategy still appears to focus on the use of permits in combination with a voluntary approach to pollution control on farms not regarded as "large" (1000 AUs as per NPDES definitions). Note that comprehensive nutrient management planning (CNMP) is a cornerstone of this voluntary approach.

More details on the states for which information was specifically requested can be found in the sections that follow.


4.1 North Carolina

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

The definition of Intensive Livestock Operation in .0200 Rules is defined as having greater than 100 cattle, 250 swine, 75 horses, 1000 sheep or 30,000 poultry (under a liquid manure system).

State Legislation: Base legislation are the ".0200 Rules". Additional bills to protect water quality and focussing more specifically on large-scale hog farms have been passed since 1995.

Administered By: North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR).

Status: The .0200 rules were enacted in 1993. Additional legislation has been added, primarily focussing on training/certification, hog production and problems with lagoon/sprayfield systems as well as development of livestock systems in floodplains.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

In North Carolina, up until 1992, under the State’s non-discharge program, farm operations were "deemed permitted" as long as they were not (knowingly) discharging wastewater to surface waters. On Dec 10, 1992 a more formal compliance procedure was enacted and these rules (popularly known in NC as the .0200 rules) became effective Feb 1, 1993. Under .0200 rules, in order to be "deemed permitted" as per NPDES requirements, some larger facilities had to meet additional criteria including registering their system and completing waste management plans. Technical specialists through the state soil and water conservation service, cooperative extension service or private professional engineers, provided technical assistance to producers and could certify waste management plans submitted. The deadline to meet the .0200 rules for existing operations was December 31,1997. The majority met these deadlines, although there was a personnel shortage in the soil conservation service working on this. Under .0200 rules, an ILO operation (ie. one that required this extra information) was defined as having greater than 100 cattle, 250 swine, 75 horses, 1000 sheep or 30,000 poultry.

Huge expansion of the swine industry in the state occurred in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Similarly, huge lagoon/sprayfield based manure management systems on large hog farms were established. Huge lagoon spills in 1995 prompted the Blue Ribbon Study Commission on Agricultural Waste They sent strong recommendations to the State which were largely adopted and resulted in Senate Bill 1217. In this new bill ILOs were still defined as they were in .0200. Liquid manure and liquid hog manure was becoming the focus by this point in NC. Also, by this point, the NC Division of Environmental Management, in Cooperation with the Cooperative Extension Service was legislated to administer a training and certification program for animal waste managers on swine farms. By January 1998, only a certified operator could apply animal waste to land in NC.

Training was given to Technical Specialists responsible for certifying waste management plans to improve uniformity of plans.

Waste management plans consider nitrogen only in determining application rates. Copper and zinc are also to be monitored.

The need for record keeping was added as part of the .0200 rules requirements.

Additional funding was provided by the state to achieve the certification and construction upgrades completed by Jan 1, 1997. Also, monies to assess alternative technologies were provided. In fact, on April 22, 1999, the State Governor set out a plan to convert existing lagoon/sprayfield systems into more effective treatment systems.

Recent problems with hog waste resulted during a wet period, when facilities on floodplains contributed to vast manure loadings. An act was passed to restrict development of such systems on floodplain areas.

Municipal Legislation:

The livestock industry is regulated largely at the State level in NC. Prior to moratoriums set at the State level, some counties imposed moratoriums on their own. County public health departments may have also enacted ordinances if there was a public health basis to support it. State minimum set-back distances were established. (In 1995 swine barns had to be at least 1500 feet from a residence or 2500 feet from a church, school or hospital and 100 feet from a property line). Control was not as restrictive prior to 1995.

The moratorium on the construction or expansion of swine farms and lagoon/sprayfield style animal waste management systems, established in 1997 and now extended until July 2001, was enacted in large part to give municipalities time to adopt zoning ordinances under G.S. 153A-340. This applies to swine farms having a manure management system having a design capacity of 600,000 lbs Steady State Live Weight (SSLW) or more.

For more information: North Carolina General Assembly (search for related bills, statutes, etc.)


4.2 California

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

Their definition follows the US-EPA definition of a CAFO. Theoretically, a confined animal facility with more than 700 AUs needs a NPDES permit. As with the rest of North America, the trend in California is for fewer and larger farms. (eg. California is the largest dairy producing state today with 2400 dairies. It had 20,000 operations in). In 1991, the average size dairy was 500 head.

1 AU is equivalent to 1 dairy cow.

State Legislation: No specific legislation related to intensive livestock agriculture other than NPDES permits and general waste discharge requirements by the local Water Board (a division of the State Water Control Agency).

Administered By: Water Resources Control Board – Regional Divisions

Status: NPDES permit requirements in place , but few livestock operations hold such permits as requirements are waived. They are assumed to comply unless found otherwise or a known risky situation (eg. beside watercourse). If a problem identified they may be issued a permit which includes a compliance schedule. About 100 dairy farms in the state have a permit. Enforcement is also lax. About 4 inspectors are in place to monitor the diary farms for example.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

California has both water quality and quantity concerns, probably much more serious now than in many other parts of North America, but their legislation does not seem to reflect what an outsider might perceive as the relative seriousness. Also note that California’s limit threshold limit for nitrates in water is 45 mg/L, not 10 mg/L. Many of the aquifers are well above the 10 limit now and many are nearing, with some exceeding, the 45 limit.

Also, it is apparent that the cash crop sector has as serious an influence on nitrate loading to groundwater as the livestock sector. Most action to-date, however, seems to centre around voluntary approaches for both the cash crop and livestock sectors. It was noted, however, that the Poultry Producers must be certified on how to write NMPs by December 1, 2000, so there is some movement toward more control.

Finally, there is some indication that, to meet the growing demand for organic produce, there is more of a market for groups generating compost from manure to then be used as an organic soil amendment. They may buy the raw manure from a number of neighbouring livestock producers.

Municipal Legislation:

Counties have the authority to regulate factory farms and can pass regulations that are stricter than the State’s. In Tulare County, (where 600 dairy farms are within a 20 mile radius of the county ag. office), the Regional Water Control Agency requires an animal density of no more than 5 AUs/crop acre. But Tulare has obtained a waiver of up to 10 Aus/acre if 50% of the solid waste is removed from the site. Complying with this limit is still just voluntary at present. Again, it is not clear that the counties are taking advantage of their ability to regulate. Nitrate levels in Groundwater in this county are approaching 45 mg/L, but still below limits.


4.3 Texas

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

The definition is consistent with the US-EPA’s guideline of any operation that stables, confines, feeds, or maintains for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period more than 1000 AUs (eg 1000 beef, 700 dairy, 2500 hog etc.)

State Legislation: Chapter 321, Subchapter B, Commercial Livestock and Poultry Production Operations (if established before July 13, 1995).

Subchapter K, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation; and Chapter 116 (Regulation VI), Control of Pollution by Permits for New Construction or Modification. (if established after July 13, 1995).

Administered By: Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC)

Status: Subchapter K (newest regulation) came into effect in July, 1995.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

The TNRCC Agriculture Team works with CAFO’s in the selection, implementation and use of environmentally sound BMPs for collecting and utilizing animal wastes. They review permit applications for new or expanding operations. New facilities also need air quality authorization. The team also monitors the status of permitted facilities, including facility certification reporting under Subchapter K rules. They also develop and maintain training and education programs as required under Subchapter K.

A "Pollution Prevention Plan" (PPP) must be prepared by every facility that is authorized to operate under Subchapter K (ie: new facilities since 1995 and old ones that may have opted to move under this legislation. The PPP includes site plans and site characterization data, data from manure and soil sampling and pollution controls put in place. Specifics of record keeping are laid out such as weekly measurements of water levels in storages and continuous rainfall monitoring. General requirements on storage liners are also to be met.

Records of where, when and how much manure is applied are to be kept. Routine inspections of systems are also to be documented.

Specific information on when, how and what to sample in soil and manure are provided. They regulate phosphorus loading as well as nitrogen loading to land.

Managers of manure under subchapter K are to be regularly trained and this is recorded in PPP.

Specific sectors and geographic areas known to have a pollution problem are targeted (eg. owners with 300 to 1000 AUs in the "Dairy Outreach Program Area" (an area known to have groundwater contamination problems) have to complete an 8 hour course on animal waste management as part of their PPP.

Audits by TNRCC of facilities under subchapter K and in the target areas are audited every 5 years.

General steps to take in the event of a discharge are also outlined.

Municipal Legislation:

The literature reviewed did not indicate a significant amount of municipal involvement in the permitting or control of ILO’s in Texas.


4.4 Nebraska

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

Any livestock operation that has 300 or more animal units and which has not had a confirmed discharge is exempt from the the permitting process required through legislation.

An AU is defined as 1 mature beef animal, 2.5 swine weighing at least 55 lbs, 25 weaned pigs weighing less than 55 lbs, 10 seep or 0.7 dairy cattle (similar to US-EPA definitions).

There are 212 livestock facilities in Nebraska with a NPDES permit.

State Legislation: Livestock Waste Management Act

Administered By: Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ)

Status: Initially passed in April 1998. Two significant amendments in 1999

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

Livestock operations typically apply for and obtain construction and operating permits for livestock waste control facilities (LWCF). NDEQ engineers, review plans to ensure compliance with established standards and a construction permit is issued. Operating permits are not issued until an inspection is made to ensure it was constructed to plan.

Class I operations (ie < 1000 AUs) do not need design applications prepared by professional engineers.

Exempt operations (ie: less than 300 AUs) are also exempt from the requirement to request an inspection from the Department of Environmental Quality. (Note in the 1998 legislation, all operations (regardless of size) were required to request an inspection. Therefore this requirement was relaxed in 1999.)

It appears the new legislation is most concerned with the construction and inspection aspects of ILOs. The NMP aspect is not mentioned. Important to note is Nebraska has been working with nitrate groundwater contamination for a number of years and have a 3-phase abatement program. In areas where N levels in groundwater are < 12.5 PPM, fall fertilization is not recommended. In areas where N levels in groundwater are between 12.5 and 20 PPM, wells and soils are tested regularly and no nutrients can be applied in the fall. Annual reports are to be filed describing the NMP strategy. In areas where N levels exceed 20 PPM, additional restrictions are in place. It is likely that operators of ILOs would be part of such programs. Note that in recent years, nitrate levels in groundwater have shown a downward trend.

Municipal Legislation:

Nebraska State law permits counties to zone agriculture and almost all of the counties facing increased pressure from ILOs have begun the process of developing comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances. However, this process can take up to two years. The new legislation allows for temporary zoning . Recent hearings across the State to learn what improvements were needed to tighten state regulations, will likely result in increased oversight authorized to the Department of Environmental Quality.

An interesting note is that the State had a constitutional ban on corporate farming which protected them somewhat until recently when individuals and general partnerships started proposing large operations. This is what has spawned a request for more control state regulations and increased authority for counties.

The legislature will be considering a proposal to require all corporations and other limited liability entities to report their ownership of land and livestock and their other farming activities in order to increase enforcement of Nebraska’s constitutional restrictions on corporate farming.

For more information: Nebraska's Livestock Waste Control Program


4.5 Minnesota

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

Minnesota’s definition proposed under the new rules of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) is a modification of the federal (US EPA) definition. This affects what facilities are required to apply for and obtain a NPDES permit in Minnesota. Federal regulations basically define a CAFO as having more than 1000 AUs or more than 300 AUs and meeting at least one of two discharge criteria. The proposed rule in Minnesota requires ALL facilities with 1000 or more animal units comply with the standards and permit application requirements as CAFOs. The proposed new rule would also establish an animal unit threshold at 300 AUs or more to distinguish facilities for purposes of the permitting program and technical standards.

An AU is defined as per US-EPA definitions (eg. 700 dairy cows etc.)

Note with new proposed rules, additional "technical" requirements are being placed on farms with lower AUs. For example manure management plans are required for all feedlots with 100 or more AUs. Animals, regardless of numbers present, must be restricted from lakes by October 2001. Animals on pastures (where vegetation is maintained) are prohibited from entering lakes unless an NRCS approved restricted access point is in place.

State Legislation: Minnesota Rules 7001, 7002, 7020. (Rules Relating to Animal Feedlots, Storage, Transportation and Utilization of Manure)

Administered By: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)

Status: This is PROPOSED legislation. It seems like they have done a good bit of consultation with stakeholders, but there is still some discomfort over the whole process among farm groups.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

Much of the proposed legislation was the outcome from an extensive evaluation of the current MPCA animal feedlot regulatory program. Findings from that evaluation are summarized in a report titled, "Animal Feedlot Regulation: A Program Evaluation Report (Jan. 1999). Key suggestions from the report included:

  • Better oversight of permitted and non-permitted animal feedlots, manure storage areas and pastures.
  • Better oversight and coordination with delegated counties
  • A need to develop better strategy to correct water pollution hazards.

There are 5 major sections in the proposed rules:

  1. Permit fees
  2. Registration Program
  3. Permit Program
  4. Delegated County Program
  5. Standards for discharge, design, construction, operation and closure

Under existing rules a NPDES permit are the only operating permits issued as required. New rules may require a facility acquiring a State Disposal System (SDS) permit. Both permits will have the same fee schedule. Such permits will only be needed to operate a CAFO if numbers exceed 1000 AUs

State registration of feedlot and operational information will be required by all animal operations greater that 50 AUs (10 if in shoreland areas). Deadline is October 1, 2001.

Owners with < 300 AUs who register will have up to October 2003 to implement "simple" pollution control measures and have up to October 1, 2009 to be in full compliance with the new rules. Facilities with 300 to 999 AUs must make changes as soon as rules come into effect.

Most facilities will be required to register every 4 years and will be asked to obtain "Construction Short-Form Permits" or "Interim Permits" when they expand or repair manure storages or barns etc. (eg. to upgrade to the new rules). (No charge for these permits.)

Counties may voluntarily accept delegation to administer the feedlot program under the new rules. This included permitting of all feedlots with less than 1000 AUs, inspection and complaint follow-up. This is done through a formal agreement between the county and MPCA. State money is transferred to assist the county in the program.

The rules include a requirement for feedlots to meet specific performance standards for both air and water quality. For example, feedlots would be required to meet MPCA ambient air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide. Runoff from CAFOs is not allowed.

There is a requirement for limiting livestock access to surface waters.

Shoreline areas have more restrictions (ie: no new facilities in area > 700 AUs). Also, in karst areas (ie. vulnerable groundwater area), a producer cannot store more than 250,000 gal and must follow more strict design standards.

The proposed rules specify design standards and construction practices and seepage limits. As part of procedure to obtain a construction permit, plans and specs. are required (signed by an engineer). Special requirements are proposed for liquid manure storage especially in "drinking water management areas". A pre-construction conference between the design engineer, contractors, owner and inspector is required. Operation and maintenance plans are required for liquid storage. The concrete storage must be inspected by an NRCS staff person, a concrete technician, or a registered engineer.

Existing liquid storage, currently not permitted, have to be able to pass inspection. If not, repaired or decommissioned. If 1000 AU operation, have to meet the requirements by Oct 2001. If 300 to 999 AUs, meet by Oct 2003. If < 300, meet by Oct 2009.

Manure management plans are required for all feedlots with 100 or more AUs. Schedule for development and implementation is as follows:

  • Upon application for a construction permit
  • For feedlots not requiring a permit, and > 300 AUs, by October 1, 2002.
  • For feedlots between 100 and 300 AUs, by October, 2005

What needs to be included in a plan is specified (record keeping etc.). Soil sample and manure samples are required. Both N and P are considered.

Spreading on frozen or snow-covered soils is prohibited as is spreading within 300 feet of a tile intake (eg. hickenbottom), unless it is injected or incorporated within 24 hrs. The same provision applies to solid manure by October, 2004.

Municipal Legislation:

MPCA has supported and this legislation would strengthen their commitment to seeing municipalities play an increased role in feedlot regulation. They claim the approach of more local regulation has been successful. Several counties now have permitted nearly all their feedlots. Other counties are doing inspections on more than 100 feedlots annually.

Counties with delegated feedlot permitting programs are eligible to receive up to $80/feedlot annually to help administer the program. In an effort to further aid county level regulation, the new rules include giving the counties greater responsibility in the following areas:

  • Implement feedlot registration requirements
  • Process permit applications and issue construction short-form permits for new or expanding feedlots with 301-999 AUs.
  • Process permit applications and issue interim permits for feedlots with 50 –999 AUs that have been determined to be a potential pollution hazard.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive inspection program
  • Develop and implement a program for tracking and handling complaints; and
  • Complete training requirements as required by the agency.

Note the county and MPCA enter into an agreement to have the county do any or all of these activities. This makes it unique to the needs of a local area, but should help bring statewide standards to system.

For More information: MPCA's Revised Feedlot Regulations


4.6 Pennsylvania

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) are defined in Pennsylvania as operations where the animal density exceeds 2 animal equivalent units (AEUs) per acre on an annual basis.

An AEU is defined as 1000 lbs. live weight. So the total number of AEUs on a farm is the number of animals times their weight divided by 365,000. In Pennsylvania, only CAOs are required to complete a NMP. Between 5% and 10% (1600) of the state’s farms fall into this category. The other 90% are encouraged to voluntarily prepare NMPs. Plans for existing farms were due on October, 1998. Of the 1600 farms needing plans, about 750 had turned them in on October 1, 1998. All this suggests that Pennsylvania is still relying heavily on a voluntary adoption approach for NMPs.

State Legislation: Nutrient Management Act

Administered By: Department of Environmental Protection (Pennsylvania). Rules and regulations established by the State Conservation Commission. (1995).

Status: Enacted in 1993.

Overview of Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

In Pennsylvania, the landbase associated with a NMP is encouraged to be within 10 miles of where manure was produced.

Farms with less than 2 AEUs are encouraged to have voluntary plans. They would be similar to the required plans, but but have fewer reporting requirements and simpler planning requirements related to the export of manure.

Farms that have violated the Clean Water Act, that have less than 2 AEUs may be required to follow CAO NMP requirements.

The NMP contains four major sections, namely:

  • Determination of available nutrients, crop production needs, nutrient application rates and procedures
  • Manure management including BMPs
  • Soil erosion and runoff control
  • Alternative manure utilization

Specifics of what has to be included in a plan are given in the Act.

The NMP has to be prepared by a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist. This may be a consultant or the producer who has completed the NMP training provided through the cooperative extension service. All plans are reviewed by a Public Nutrient Management Specialist.

BMPs for manure spreading are given in a document entitled Manure Management for Environmental Protection

It seems they request P and K soil tests be done, but maximum manure rate is based on N only.

Winter spreading is discouraged but permitted if precautionary BMPs are followed. Standard separation distances from various features are identified (wells, floodplains, etc.).

Upgrades to existing storage systems may be required as part of the plan. Structures and specs are to meet the NRCS Pennsylvania Technical Guide.

Plans are submitted to the local conservation district or State Conservation Commission for Approval. Existing CAOs (by definition) had 1 year following regulation adoption to submit a NMP (ie until 1996). It has to be implemented within 3 years of its approval dates.

Plans are to be reviewed annually by the NMP specialist. If no changes, the specialist notifies the reviewing agency. If not, a plan amendment must be submitted (again, prepared by a NMP specialist).

Significant financial and technical assistance is available to producers to assist in implementing the plan. (Note this is true in most of the US States. Up to 70% to 80% financial assistance is available and NRCS often provides much of the technical design assistance in all states.)

Municipal Legislation:

The Nutrient Management Act allows for local nutrient management ordinances to be adopted but they must be consistent with the state Act and their requirements can be no more stringent than what are presented in the state Act. This limits municipal involvement, unlike Minnesota.


4.7 Other States

Other states in the US are also dealing with this issue.

5.0 European Jurisdictions

In Europe, farming practices adopted and issues around nutrient management have been strongly influenced by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU). Europe’s CAP was originally agreed two in 1957 following WWII when memories of war and food shortages were vibrant in the minds of many. The policy had the following objectives:

  • To increase agricultural productivity
  • To ensure a fair standard of living for producers
  • To stabilize markets
  • To ensure availability of supplies
  • To ensure reasonable prices for consumers

These same objectives remain in place today. The policies through implementation effectively produced a bottomless market for agricultural products. The high levels of price support for grains provided a relatively cheap feed for livestock production and thus manure production as well.

In 1991 the common European Commission (EC) passed the Nitrate Directive upon realization that the CAP policies had contributed to large surpluses of nutrients as well as food within the EU. This was the first EC legislation that linked agricultural nutrients and water quality and is the overriding European legislation that has the most far-reaching implications for European farmers.

Nitrogen surpluses were causing the greatest concern through its role in contaminating drinking water. There were many examples of drinking water nitrate levels exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) nitrate limit in drinking water of 50 mg/L. This was resulting in the need for extremely expensive water treatment. Phosphorus was also in oversupply with many soils being over-saturated resulting in phosphorus loadings to both surface waters and ground waters.

The Nitrate Directive required EU countries to monitor their fresh surface waters and ground waters for 1 year to identify polluted waters. Those areas that contributed waters whose nitrate concentrations were approaching or exceeding 50 mg/L were classed as vulnerable areas.

The Nitrate Directive also required that EU countries each establish codes of good agricultural practice to reduce nitrate pollution. The codes were to address the following:

  • Periods when the land application is inappropriate
  • The land application of fertilizer to steeply sloping ground
  • The land application of fertilizer to water-saturated, flooded, frozen or snow-covered ground
  • The conditions for land application of fertilizer near the water courses
  • The capacity and construction of storage vessels for livestock manure, including measures to prevent water pollution by run-off and seepage into the groundwater and surface water of liquids containing livestock manure and effluent from stored plant materials such as silage
  • Procedures for the land application, including rate and uniformity of spreading of both chemical fertilizer and livestock manure that will maintain nutrient losses to water at an acceptable level.

The Nitrate Directive also suggested but did not require that codes address the requirement for fertilizer plans and record-keeping systems related to fertilizer use. The Directive also required EU countries to provide training to their producers on the implementation of the code requirements.

While member countries had the freedom to develop country-specific action plans for identified vulnerable areas, the plans had to include a limit of 170 kg N/ha (ie: max 2 LU/ha) on manure use. Note that 210 kg N/ha was allowable for the first 4 years of the program to help phase in this requirement.

How effective the nitrate directive has been is not clear. Initially, there was strong resistance by a number of the member countries to execute the Directive. Therefore it has not been acted upon as effectively as it could have been. Nevertheless, there still remains a significant nitrate pollution problem in all EU countries. The following sections touch on some the activities in selected countries and will help to illustrate how European countries are addressing the issue of nutrient management, particularly as it relates to intensive farming activities. Much of the information presented below was acquired in 1995 through a fact-finding mission sponsored by Manitoba Pork. Updates on this base information are provided where available.


5.1 The Netherlands

How is Intensive Farming Defined?:

Intensive livestock production units in the Netherlands (ie: those that MUST register mineral losses) are pig, poultry or mixed pig and cattle livestock farms that have an animal density on the farm greater than 2.5 LUs/ha. In 2002, this limit will be lowered to 2 LU/ha. At the present level of 2.5 LUs/ha, this definition encompasses 35% of all Dutch farms and 50% of all livestock farms. Intensive greenhouse operations are currently exempt from having to account for mineral inputs and outputs unless a significant portion of livestock manure is used as a fertilizer source.

One LU in the Netherlands is defined as the equivalent of 1 dairy cow

State Legislation: Numerous Acts have been passed since the mid-eighties to try and address the excess minerals problem. The first law (1983 was the Interim Law for Restricting Pig and Poultry Farms. It prohibited the startup or expansion of such farms in sandy soil regions but proved ineffective in preventing increases in animal numbers. The Manure Law and the Soil Protection Act replaced it and introduced manure bookkeeping. It took a 3-phase approach (see below). Phase III of this approach however was proving to be unrealistic in trying to meet the EC’s Nitrate Directive. In late 1995, a new manure and ammonia policy was developed, and is largely what is being followed now. The main act in force now is generally termed the Act on Manures and Fertilizers. It receives periodic revisions and fine-tuning.

Administered By: Largely administered by the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries.

Status: Acts have been in place since 1983. The current act outlines policies for reducing mineral amounts through until 2010.

Overview of Country Situation and Legislation as it pertains to ILOs:

In general, the program to reduce N and P losses in the Netherlands relies on the following basic components:

  • Detailed minerals accounting on farms with high livestock density.
  • Establishment of mineral use and loss standards to be achieved. These are phased in through to 2010.
  • Encouragement and restructuring
  • Reduction of ammonia losses

Under the EU Nitrate Directive, groundwater may contain a maximum of 50 mg/L of nitrate. The Dutch have fixed a target for drinking water of 25 mg/L nitrate.

Cattle, pigs and poultry contribute to 4%, 58% and 38% of the manure surplus present in the Netherlands. Of these, the hog industry will have the most difficulty meeting reduction targets. Programs are in place to encourage reductions in pork production (ie: older producers to wind down their business). Chicken producers will be relying heavily on their ability to export manure which has been relatively successful.

Manure banks that distribute manure to low density areas to high density areas have been relatively successful.

Manure processing plants (eg. pelletizing) have not been very successful. Two units in 1995 were only at 10% capacity. Cost of the technologies and identifying outlets for the product are major barriers. At one time there were 20 to 30 biogas plants in operation but these have all been abandoned. Low intensity aeration systems were found to be useful in controlling odours but were abandoned due to their release of large amounts of nitrogen.

Ammonia emission is as much of a problem in the Netherlands as nitrate due to acid rain concerns. Programs are in place requiring manure injection at spreading, covering storage facilities and building low emission facilities.

Producers have been very successful in reducing the water volumes in their liquid manure. This makes for more efficient transport costs. They are also taking full advantage of phytase additives in feed.

The experience of policymakers over the years is that policies are only effective if they are realistic and practical. They also recognize the need for flexibility to allow for regional differences.

At present the policies focus on the farms placing the heaviest burden on the environment. In this way, largest risks are tackled first, regulations are kept to a minimum and the fewest number of people possible are affected by the legislation.

While regulations require, farms with >2.5 LU/ha (2.0 LU/ha by 2002) to meet regulations, farms with < 2.0 LU/ha are also encouraged to apply. There is also a basic set of measures that are applied to all farms, namely, no spreading of manure in autumn or winter, covers on stored manure and use of techniques to minimize ammonia losses at spreading. Government dollars are being spent to help farmers adopt this "cleaner" technology quickly.

The MINAS (MINerals Accounting System) must be implemented by all ILOs as defined above (ie: those posing most risk to the environment). This system records all minerals (N and P) in and out and remaining on the farm. If this budgeting identifies a loss and that loss exceeds the allowable standard, then a levy applies. Detailed (ie: full sampling programs of manure, produce etc.) can be implemented or standard numbers can be used for the budget calculations.

Changing the targets, using a phased approach, results in a continual change in manure supply and demand. This has to be carefully managed.

Municipal Legislation:

Municipalities do not seem to play a large role in regulating ILOs. Regions can, however, apply grant schemes to area-specific policies (eg. sandy soil areas). In general, EC countries are more highly regulated than jurisdictions in North America. Public participation was not mentioned in the literature reviewed as being an integral part of the societal assurance. This is likely a consequence of the strong reliance on regulatory measures combined with the fact that the issue is continent wide, thus countries have to respond to EU requirements.


5.2 Denmark

Denmark’s policy in this area, like the Netherlands, is influenced by the EC Nitrate Directive. Therefore, there is a lot of similarity between Denmark and other EU countries and the Netherlands. A greater amount of time was spent describing the Netherlands situation so that other countries in the EU can be compared to it.

Similarities between the Netherlands and Denmark’s situation are as follows:

  • Livestock unit (LU) definitions are similar to the Netherlands.
  • Danish farmers are also subject to a deterrent levy if they exceed a fertilizer quota assigned to each farm.
  • Denmark also corrects nitrogen losses in animal manure.
  • Denmark also tests newly formed groundwater (ie: groundwater just below the root zone) as the point to see whether the nitrate standards are exceeded.
  • Their target reduction for nitrogen emissions to the sea is also 50%. Denmark expects to reach this target in 2003.

Differences between the Netherlands and Denmark are as follows:

  • Denmark has implemented a more restrictive input standard for animal fertilizers: for cattle maximum 170 kg N/ha, linked to 1.7 LU.
  • There is an exception for a small percentage of the cattle herd: 230 kg nitrogen/ha
  • Danish farmers have to set up a fertilization plan, taking account of nitrogen use and lower yields.
  • The farms are generally tied to the land and must dispose of their manure surpluses in the neighbourhood of the farm on a contract basis.
  • Denmark has been much more successful in establishing biogas plants.

Earlier legislation in the 1980s was the mandate of the country’s environment ministry. IN 1990, however the mandate was turned over to the agriculture ministry.

Manure spreading in Denmark is prohibited from harvest until February 1. This results in a need for farmers to have 9 months of storage. Sine 1994, a statement has to be field with the municipality stating that sufficient storage is available.

Liquid manure tanks must have a cover. A floating straw cover is commonly used.

Beginning in 1997, the regulations required that a manure storage be checked every 10-years for strength and tightness. A minimum 5 year written contract is required if the storage capacity is achieved by using storage facilities on other farms or at biogas plants.

All farms exceeding 10 hectares are required to produce compulsory fertilizer and crop rotation plans. As well, 65% of the crop land must be sown to a green cover crop in the autumn.

Biogas production has proved successful at several large plants. Raw material includes both manure and municipal waste. Farmers deliver their manure directly to the plants which then process and store the manure and processed waste. Then from mid-March to mid-May, the plant delivers the processed waste to the edge of area fields in special trailers. The farmers then apply this material that contains 3% to 4% total N and 2% to 3% total P. Odours are very low. But there are sometimes odour problems around the biogas facilities themselves that raise concerns.

For several years, large government grants were needed to make these plants economically viable. Today many of these plants are at or near the break-even point. The Danish organization that manages these plants believe they have fine-tuned the process and technology to a level that would lower costs for future installations. This company has a consulting arm. The plants reviewed as part of this exercise had the capacity to service from 10 to 25 feeder hog facilities, each with 2500 head.


5.3 Germany

Germany has passed a national Act on Water Management that enables regional governments to identify recharge areas and set their own standards for agricultural production within these areas. As a result, each of Germany’s 16 states has their own regulations with respect to intensive livestock production. In areas with more intensive livestock production, "manure regulations" have been enacted that state upper limits for livestock densities. The rules range from state to state, resulting in N application rates ranging from 160 to 340 kg N/ha allowed. The rules also restrict manure spreading within the non-growing season. Government grants and livestock sale prices are more lucrative for farms that have LU densities below 2.0 LU/ha. Like their counterparts in the Netherlands and Denmark, German farmers, under the Fertilizer Application Regulation, are obliged to calculate mineral balances for their farms and complete fertilization plans.


5.4 Switzerland

Swiss farms are small by European standards, but government subsidies are enough to allow producers to make a reasonable living, so there is no strong incentive to expand. It is important to note that Switzerland is not a member of the EU, however, their present legislation is comparable to EU regulations.

There is a variation in the growing conditions of the landscape from the lowlands to the high mountainous regions. The mountainous regions have many more environmental restrictions. In 2005, the maximum number of animal units permitted on Swiss land will be 2.5, even on the best lowland. Lower animal densities will be allowed on the poorer land.

Beginning this year, all Swiss farmers are required to do an accounting of nitrogen and phosphate in order to receive agricultural subsidies. In order to receive a subsidy payment, the net value of the minerals produced and used or exported must be zero. Farmers receive assistance in filling out these balance calculation forms.

Phytase and amino acid supplements in hog feed is a major approach being considered to reduce N and P levels in hog manure in Switzerland.


5.5 England

England established a Pilot Nitrate Scheme in 1990 in response to concerns over nitrate contamination of groundwater. This directive, while not initially in response to the EC’s Nitrate Directive, had many parallel features and is the basis of the program now in place to help England meet the EC Directive.

The Pilot Nitrate Scheme was replaced in 1995 with the Nitrate Sensitive Areas (NSA) scheme. A total area of 35,000 ha within 32 NSA’s were affected and these areas all fell within the category of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones as classified under the EC Nitrate Directive.

Regulations relating to the structural strength of concrete and steel manure storage tanks are in place. Generally, concrete and steel tanks are not the preferred storage system due to their cost. Earthen storage facilities have to meet minimum hydraulic conductivity prior to use. All storage facilities must have an expected life of 20 years. The minimum required storage capacity is 4 months.

The program in England to reduce mineral losses from their land is largely voluntary. There are, however, significant government financial incentives to encourage participation. The three types of voluntary land use measures farmers can participate in are as follows:

  1. Premium Arable Scheme - which involves the conversion of arable land to extensive grass under a range of possible management schemes that have low fertilizer input.
  2. Premium Grass Scheme – which involves extensification of intensively managed grass.
  3. Basic Scheme – a scheme involving low nitrogen input arable cropping. Low nitrogen input refers to an average maximum of 150 kg/ha/year fertilizer additions.

Farmers entering their fields under these programs agree to stay in the program for a minimum of 5 years. They are also agree not to remove fence rows, hedgerows or destroy other traditional and environmental features from the area. Payments are made in exchange for their voluntary participation.

All farmers are encouraged to follow the British Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food’s "Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water". Some key requirements for the code are as follows:

  • Manure nitrogen application rates should not exceed 250 kg N/ha/year
  • Manure should not be spread within 10 metres of a watercourse or 50 metres of a well
  • The maximum recommended liquid manure application rate is 4500 gal/ac. A minimum three-week period between such applications is recommended.

The definition of livestock units (ie: the number of particular animals allowed/acre) in England is summarized below:

Animal Type Maximum recommended LU (animals/acre):

  • Dairy cow 1.1
  • Calf (up to 6 months) 13.5
  • Sow with litter 6.7
  • Pig (20 to 90 kgs) 9.6
  • Laying hen 162


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: nman.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 23 May 2003
Last Reviewed: 23 May 2003