Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image
Confined animal feeding operations

Program overview

The Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) permit program was developed to assist operators and producers with managing their waste so as not to contaminate ground or surface water. Since the early 1980s, CAFOs have been registered to a general Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) permit designed to protect water quality, while allowing the operators and producers to remain economically viable. It is recognized that a properly maintained CAFO is protective of ground and surface water.

A facility that is properly maintained may dispose of its wastes in a number of ways. Some methods of disposal may create what the law refers to as a discharge of wastes, as do some extreme weather events.

In order to assure continued protection of ground and surfacewater, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been directed by the 2001 Oregon State Legislature, to convert the program from a WPCF permit program to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. A NPDES permit will allow discharge in certain circumstances, while at the same time providing protection for our water resources.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
CAFO contacts and administration

Back to Top

Public notices

Notice of Public Participation Opportunity

None at this time. 


Sign up for e-mail distribution lists for CAFO public notices.

Stay informed through an e-mail subscription hosted by the Oregon State Library.

Sign up to get e-mail notifications
when there are notices of public participation opportunities from the CAFO Program.
Back to Top

CAFO program documents

CAFO program documents

Rules, application, general permit information, compliance documents, CAFO recordkeeping calendars, and other helpful information

Back to Top

History of the CAFO Program

The CAFO permit program began in the early 1980s to prevent CAFO wastes from contaminating groundwater and surface water. CAFOs are generally defined as the concentrated confined feeding or holding of animals in buildings, pens, or lots where the surface is prepared to support animals in wet weather, or where there are wastewater treatment facilities (e.g., manure lagoons). CAFO wastes include, but are not limited to, manure, silage pit drainage, wash down waters, contaminated runoff, milk wastewater, and bulk tank wastewater. When the program began, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was the permit issuing and enforcement entity, and ODA functioned as the overall program administrator and investigating authority. DEQ is the delegated authority under the federal Clean Water Act to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permits for wastewater discharges to surface waters, including discharges from CAFOs. However, DEQ chose not to issue NPDES permits for CAFO wastes because the state Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit program was deemed to be more restrictive. The WPCF permit program prohibits the discharge of CAFO wastes to surface waters, whereas NPDES permits allow such discharges to surface water during large storm events. In 1993, the Oregon Legislature directed the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) and ODA to enter into a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate the transition of the CAFO permit program from DEQ to ODA. The MOU, developed in May 1995, addressed transfer of the state WPCF permit program to CAFOs at that time. NPDES permitting responsibilities were not transferred. EPA has since directed DEQ and ODA to issue NPDES permits to CAFOs that fit the federal definition of a concentrated animal feeding operation. In addition, the 2001 Oregon Legislature authorized and directed the transfer of the NPDES permit program for CAFOs from DEQ to ODA upon approval by EPA.
Back to Top

Manure Spreading Advisory

How does the Manure Spreading Advisory (MSA) work?

The MSA is an advisory tool to help assess if predicted weather conditions are suitable for manure application. Use this tool in conjunction with your ODA-approved Animal Waste Management Plan (AWMP) and the CAFO Permit

Click on your farm location on the map below to receive the risk rating and application guidance for your specific area. Risk is based on the 72-hour precipitation forecast for a given area. This value best predicts the potential risk of off-site movement of manure applied to a field.

If you are still unsure if a manure application is appropriate, please contact your local Livestock Water Quality Specialist.

If you are having technical challenges associated with accessing the MSA, please click here to contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture.



​​Legend: What do the risk assessments mean?

Low Risk Rating

A low risk rating means that an agronomic manure application has a low chance for a precipitation-caused runoff or leaching event to occur. 

Other Low Risk Factors  

Include: low to medium soil moisture conditions; adequate vegetation cover if surface applying; and no ponding or water table within two feet of the surface.

High Risk

A high risk rating means that an agronomic manure application has a high chance for a precipitation-caused runoff or leaching event to occur and/or impact an adjacent waterbody. 

Other High Risk Factors  

Include: Soils are saturated, the water table is within 24-inches of the surface and/or flowing tiles, is frozen more than one inch down, has thin vegetation (<70% density), and/or has high risk areas. High risk areas are swales, trenches, ditches, ponded areas, or other conduits that would channel water from the field to adjacent water way. Do not apply to high risk fields! Wait for them to become more suitable before applying. 


Please note, even if this map says your risk is low, it cannot account for every variable or condition present on your field. It is your responsibility to use your best judgment, adhere to all application guidelines outlined in your ODA-approved AWMP and CAFO Permit conditions. If unsure, always err on the side of caution to prevent unwanted discharges. Manure application practices that cause a discharge can lead to enforcement action.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture assumes no responsibility for inappropriate manure application. Proper application is ultimately the responsibility of the operator.

Thank you to the Whatcom Conservation District​ for sharing this resource with ODA.

Back to Top

CAFO inspections

Routine and follow-up inspections

Each permitted CAFO receives a routine inspection from their area Livestock Water Quality Inspector on average once a year. During this inspection, the operator and inspector discuss the operation, and the inspector views the entire operation to assure compliance with permit terms and water quality rules and laws. In the event a violation is found, the inspector works with the operator to develop a solution to the problem and a schedule to complete the corrections needed, if any.

The schedule will require certain items to be completed by specific dates. Depending on the nature of the problem, the inspector may make a follow-up inspection to the operation to see if progress is being made. At any time, the operator may call their inspector with questions or concerns about their facility.
Complaint inspections

ODA is charged with the responsibility to assure that CAFOs comply with water quality rules and statutes. Sometimes problems come to the attention of ODA through complaints made by other individuals or organizations about a certain operation or situation that concerns them. ODA receives complaints over the phone and in writing. To file a complaint, please contact the Livestock Water Quality Specialist for your area.

Once a complaint is received, it is evaluated by the area inspector and often the complainant is contacted for more information. If it is determined that the complaint could be valid, an inspection will be scheduled with the operator to view the situation and determine solutions, if needed. Upon completion of the complaint inspection, the inspector will advise the operator of his or her findings relative to the complaint, and if necessary, will work with the operator to develop a schedule to correct problems. If requested, the complainant will be notified of the results of the inspection.

Back to Top

CAFO geographic boundary map

The CAFO program is overseen by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in Salem, Oregon. The entire state has been subdivided into CAFO regions.

CAFO boundary map

Back to Top

Committee meetings notice

CAFO Advisory Committee Meeting Schedule

The following CAFO Advisory Committee meetings will be held in the Basement Conference Room D, in the Agriculture Building, at 635 Capitol St. NE, Salem, Oregon 97301:
  • Thursday, July 10, 2014, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
    Meeting agenda
  • Thursday, October 9, 2014, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Back to Top

New EPA emissions rule change

Back to Top

Animal disposal

Recent and imminent closures of Oregon rendering plants are leaving the state without those operations and prompting various state agencies, in partnership with users of rendering plants, to explore short and long-term options for disposal of dead animals and butcher waste. Among the state agencies working on potential solutions are the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Oregon State University (OSU).
Disposal of Animal Mortality and Byproducts (14Kpdf)

Back to Top