CAFO Legislation and Regulations

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) raise large numbers of animals in confined spaces, mechanically bringing feed to the animals and removing waste. CAFOs are legally defined in the Clean Water Act (CWA) according to the number of confined animals in one location.

Federal and State laws attempt to regulate CAFOs and their resultant environmental pollution. Our governments could reduce pollution from CAFOs by applying the same laws to agriculture that apply to other businesses and by financially supporting all farms, not just CAFOs. Besides water, soil, and air pollution from CAFOs, animal agriculture accounts for at least 11% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Pollution and emissions could easily be reduced by farming in more environmentally protective ways.

The companion Fact Sheet on CAFO Legislation and Regulation includes information on major federal laws regarding CAFOs with descriptions of loopholes that allow CAFOs to pollute and escape regulation.

  • The Farm Bill (Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018)
  • The Clean Water Act (Federal Water Pollution Control Act  33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1388
  • The Clean Air Act (Federal Air Pollution and Control Act 42 U.S.C. §§ 7401-7671q)
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) 42 U.S.C. §§ 11001-11050
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq
  • Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting 40 CFR Part 98 Subpart JJ Manure Management
  • Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) 7 U.S.C. §§ 181–229c
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