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The US EPA National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit program has regulated open lot livestock production systems since the 1970’s, historically requiring collection, storage, and land application of runoff. Under the new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulations, the effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) offer the option of Voluntary Alternative Performance Standards for beef and dairy. This potentially allows runoff management options such as vegetative treatment systems (VTS) that may perform equal to or better than our baseline system while maintaining a challenging standard for application of alternative technologies.
To facilitate application of VTS, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and Iowa State University (ISU), have initiated several pro-active efforts including field-based demonstration and evaluation of these technologies and development of performance models for estimating performance. They also enlisted USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to assist with the assembly of the current science and access to cost share resources.
This paper will 1) summarize the process used for facilitating an alternative technologies application on CAFOs, 2) review the critical issues in applying new technologies from the perspective of EPA, industry, research community, and private sector; and 3) summarize lessons learned in this process. Significant obstacles exist for alternative technology applications on CAFOs. Stakeholders in livestock environmental issues will need to play pro-active roles if alternative technologies will be permitted under the CAFO regulations.