Legislation LB677

LB 677 and Its Impact on Nebraska Animal Feeding Operations

Rick Koelsch, Livestock Environmental Engineer, UNL Extension

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that took effect April 14, 2003 defined the procedures for defining animal feeding operations (AFOs) as well as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). CAFOs are required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from Nebraska Department of Environment Quality. For Nebraska, the adoption of these rules into Title 130 changed the definition of an animal feeding operation to be more inclusive.  In particular, pasture-based systems previously exempted would now be classified as an AFO, required to request an inspection, and possibly need an NPDES permit.

Prior to 2004, Title 130 defined a livestock operation as this:  "Livestock operation shall mean the feeding or holding of beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, swine, sheep, poultry, or other livestock in buildings, lots or pens, which normally are not used for growing of crops or vegetation, but does not include the holding of cattle in calving operations for less than ninety days per year."

Title 130 currently states that: "Animal feeding operation means a location where beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, swine, sheep, poultry, or other livestock have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of forty-five days or more in any twelve-month period; and crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the location."

The shortening of the period of confinement and a subtle change in vegetation requirements in confined area (sustained vegetation or residues vs. not used for growing crops or vegetation) will require many pasture-based operations to request an inspection that previously had not.


LB677 gives cow/calf operators and other pasture-based systems recently defined as animal feeding operations until Jan. 1, 2009 to request an inspection of their facilities without incurring late fees. Inspections determine if an AFO is also a CAFO, requiring a NPDES permit.  Late fees (from $50 and up to $500 per month for large AFPO's, possibly retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000) still apply for all other AFO's (defined as a AFO prior to 2004 by Title 130) who had not requested an inspection prior to Jan. 1, 2000. In the future, late fees will apply to pasture operations that do not request an inspection by the new deadline of Jan. 1, 2009.

Classification of a livestock facility as an AFO, does not automatically trigger the need for an NPDES permit.  Use the four-step decision process in Is my operation an AFO or CAFO?  to identify if a livestock or poultry operation needs an NPDES permit.

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