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Animal Feeding Operations Rules and Regulations


Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) must meet BOTH of the following:

    • Animals are stabled or confined, and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any given 12 month period.
    • Vegetative growth or post harvest residues are not sustained during the normal growing season in the lot or facility.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are an AFO that meets ANY of the following:

  • It is a large size (see Table 1).
  • Pollutants are discharged into waters of the state through a man-made ditch, flushing system, or other similar man-made device.
  • Pollutants are discharged directly into waters of the state which originate outside of and pass over, across, or through the facility or otherwise come into direct contact with the animals confined in the operation. 
  • Has been designated as a CAFO.

The AFO categories are based on the number of animals in the facility (Table 1.)

Table 1. Table depicting animal numbers of differing AFO categories


Large CAFO

Medium AFO

Small AFO

Mature Dairy

700 +


< 199

Veal Calves

1,000 +


< 299


1,000 +


< 299

Swine > 55lbs

2,5000 +


< 799

Swine < 55lbs

10,000 +


< 2,999


500 +


< 149


10,000 +


< 2,999


55,000 +


< 16,499

Rules & Inspections

Inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with Federal Clean Water Act CAFO rules and the State Animal Feeding Operation rules. Typically EPA conducts 2-4 oversight inspections and 2-4 joint inspections per year in ND.

Oversight Inspections - Inspections done by state with the EPA along.

Joint Inspections - State lead inspections with EPA, EPA provides feedback to state.

CAFO rules

CAFO Regulations

CAFOs are regulated by the US EPA, as well as the ND Department of Health, Environmental Health Section. They require a permit from the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH), record keeping and an approved nutrient management plan (NMP). Also, CAFOs that have discharged are required to have a national Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

AFO Regulations

AFOs are regulated by the ND Department of Health. In some instances, medium and small AFOs may require a permit. Those instances deal with the possibility of pollutants being discharged into waters of the state or US.

Waters of the US & State

Waters of the state are surface waters that are not contained on an individual's property. Examples would be a slough on more that one owner's property or a stream. All groundwater, isolated lakes, and other public waters are considered waters of the state. Waters of the US include the Missouri River, Red River, and Interstate waters.

Keep in mind that some local governments may require further permitting or have zoning regulations.

For more information, contact the NDDoH.