Increased Concern For Animal Waste Disposal

Two bills have been introduced in Congress to deal with the growing problem of animal waste disposal in the United States. Senator Tom Harkin (R-Iowa) has introduced S. 1323, the “Animal Agriculture Reform Act,” and Congressman George Miller (D-Calif./7th) has introduced H.R. 3232, the “Farm Sustainability and Animal Feedlot Enforcement Act.”

The purpose of both of these bills is to protect the public health and water quality by establishing controls over animal waste disposal from “concentrated animal feeding operations.”

These bills could apply to racetracks, training facilities, and large breeding and/or boarding operations. The Senate bill would apply to any horse operations that house more than approximately 200 horses for 45 days or more per year. The House bill would apply to horse operations that house 300 or more horses for 45 days or more per year.

The Senate bill defines a concentrated animal feeding operation as any operation that collects animal excreta, holds animals for 45 days or more during any one year period and has an animal weight capacity of more than 200,000 pounds. The animal weight capacity of an operation would be determined by multiplying the number of animals on a facility by the average weight of the animal.

The House bill also defines a concentrated animal feeding operation as any operation that collects animal excreta and holds animals for 45 days or more during any one year period. But rather than use an animal weight capacity, H.R. 3232 establishes a regulatory threshold capacity. The regulatory threshold capacity for horses is 300.

If a horse operation were determined to be a concentrated animal feeding operation, it would have to receive a USDA-approved animal waste management plan. The two bills vary in what would be required to receive an approved animal waste management plan. However, both bills stipulate that to receive an approved plan an operation must have an on-site inspection by USDA. USDA would have 60 days after the on-site inspection to approve or deny the plan.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has held one hearing to discuss S. 1323. The House has not scheduled any hearings on H.R. 3232 at this time.

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