Small Farm Issues

Windmill on a Farm

Many of the manure management and environmental resources and publications are written for large livestock operations. Yet, most of the farming operations in the US are small. In Nebraska, for example, nearly 70% of all beef operations are less than 300 head and 90% are less than 1,000 head. A change in 2004 in the Federal program that regulates the permitting of livestock facilities has changed how small farms are regulated. To determine if your small livestock operation may be regulated, see "Is my operation an AFO" in the Regulations section. To find out if you are a pasture operation by EPA's definition, see "Do I Need a Permit?"

Voluntary risk reduction on small AFO's

The University of Nebraska Extension is leading an effort to develop and demonstrate alternative runoff control systems and solutions for small open lot feeding areas. The UNL Extension-sponsored Livestock Producer Environmental Assistance Project (LPEAP), is the only of its kind in the United States. The primary focus of this program is the development of vegetative treatment systems (VTS) for open lots, and voluntary environmental risk reduction practices for water quality protection and a sustainable environment. If you are a small livestock operation looking for environmental assistance, go to our Small AFOs page on this site.


The University of Nebraska hosts an Acreage and Small Farms Insights web site which features information on:

  • animals, buildings, business, crops, custom applicators, farm management, hay land and pastures; home environment, landscaping, machinery, news and information, safety, specialties', homeowner waste water management, water, weeds, and wildlife.
  • a free email subscription for "Acreage E-news" on a variety of topics geared for the acreage and small farm owner.
    If this acreage information is the type you seek follow the link to this UNL site.

LPELC logoFor more information on environmental planning related to small farms environmental issues, we recommend the following links to collaborative regional and national websites that provide factual science-based information:

Small Farms Fact Sheets from Livestock Producer Environmental Learning Center's LPE Stewardship Curriculum on the national e-Xtension site.

These fact sheets offer guidance for issues faced by small farms such as environmental stewardship, water quality protection, handling animal mortalities, manure management and more.

Information presented within the livestock manure management section of this Water Web site has been authored and/or reviewed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Manure Management Team members Leslie Johnson, Rick Koelsch, Charles Shapiro and Charles Wortmann.

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