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The University of Tennessee University of Tennessee UT Institute of Agriculture

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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)

What is a CAFO?

An operation must first be defined as an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) before it can be considered a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). AFOs are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations.

EPA defines an AFO as a lot or facility (other than an aquatic animal production facility) where the following conditions are met:
  • Animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and
  • Crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.
AFOs generally congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures. Whether or not an AFO is a CAFO depends primarily on the number of animals confined. For a brief summary of how the regulations define Large, Medium, and Small CAFOs, click [here]. CAFO's are point sources, as defined by the Clean Water Act.