In the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic change in animal agricultural production, or livestock farming, in the United States. The overall size of individual operation has increased from smaller, family-owned farms to larger farm operations raising more animals per operation. There has also been a shift toward raising poultry and certain livestock within production barns as a way to increase production efficiencies.
An animal feeding operation (AFO) is a facility where animals are confined or stabled and fed for 45 days or more in a 12-month period and crops, forage or other vegetative ground cover is not sustained over at least 50% of the confinement area. A concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) is an AFO that confines more than 1,000 animal units. Animal units are based on the weight of the animal.
1,000 animal unit equals:
- 1,000 beef cows
- 700 dairy cows
- 2,500 swine (pigs)
- 100,000 chicken boilers
Designing CAFOs requires careful planning and considerations, including how to handle the amount and concentration of animal waste produced by the CAFO, as well as the associated odors and noise. The federal Clean Water Act identifies CAFOs as possible point sources for water pollution. New technologies and modern waste-management systems help properly manage animal waste by providing a safe, reliable fertilizer source for farming operations. Proper waste management protects the environment and ultimately makes a farm more productive. Protecting the environment and the agricultural industry is a shared responsibility and doing so may have a positive impact on the environment, our food supply and local and state economies. Learn more about Missouri's CAFO laws and regulations below.