Demand EPA Properly Regulate Factory Farms

Target: Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Restart critical factory farm rule

The EPA recently withdrew a proposed rule that would have allowed it to collect basic information, like locations and animal population sizes, from factory farms.  The information the rule would give is critical to the EPA’s ability to protect waterways from pollutants produced by factory farms, one of the country’s largest sources of water pollution.

Factory farms are industrial facilities that confine thousands of animals in limited land areas for meat, dairy, and egg production. The operations that would have been subject to this rule are the factory farms falling within the “CAFO,” or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, point source category under the Clean Water Act. This category consists of some of the U.S.’s largest and dirtiest factory farms.  The EPA defines a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation as an animal feeding operation that confines animals for more than 45 days during a growing season, is in an area that does not produce vegetation, and meets certain size thresholds.

In 1972, the clear water pollution threat posed by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations staggering waste stream led Congress to mandate that EPA must regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations pursuant to the Clean Water Act. However, the EPA lacks basic information about many of these, including the number of animals and the waste management techniques. This abandoned law would have given the EPA this information.

Hugh Espey, executive director at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said, “While power plants, waste treatment facilities and manufacturers have had to comply with the protective standards of the Clean Water Act, the factory farming industry has managed to evade any meaningful regulation. After over three decades, there is no rational reason for why EPA won’t enact the types of Clean Water Act approaches with factory farms that have worked well with all of our other polluting industries.” A coalition of community, animal welfare and environmental organizations is filing a lawsuit against the EPA challenging the Agency’s withdrawal of the rule.

The EPA estimates there are 20,000 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the United States, which are producing three times as much waste as humans. However, many of these are unchecked by the EPA. Tell the EPA to reconsider and implement this rule that would allow them more information on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and protect our water.


Dear Environmental Protection Agency,

Please reconsider the dropping of the rule that would allow you more information on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. This rule would allow you to better protect our water, as explained in the Clean Water Act, by giving you the knowledge of the number of animals, location, and waste management practices of thousands of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the United States.

The dropping of this proposed rule says you are not willing to do your job. Please reconsider and protect our water from the pollution of factory farms.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: USGS via Wikimedia Commons

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