CAFOs, CFOs, AFOs??? What do all of these terms mean?
What is a CAFO?
CAFO stands for concentrated animal feeding operation. It is a term originally defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency and is used to designate larger livestock farms. Whether a farm is classified as a CAFO depends largely on; 1) the number of animals; and 2) the housing system. In Indiana, for example, farms that contain 1000 cattle, 2,500 adult pigs or 125,000 chickens housed indoors or on lots (cattle) would be classified as CAFOs.
What about AFOs and CFOs?
Sometimes these acronyms are used interchangeably. In Indiana, CFOs are distinguished from CAFOs based on their having fewer animals on the farm. A CFO would have up to 300 cattle, 600 adult pigs, or 30,000 chickens raised mainly indoors or on lots. It should be noted that the term “confined” is sometimes substituted for “concentrated”.
What is the reasoning behind these different terms?
Whether a farm is classified as a CFO or CAFO will dictate how the farm is regulated. In Indiana, CFOs and CAFOs are regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). IDEM uses standards developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether to issue a permit to a CAFO operator. To receive a permit, a producer must comprehensively demonstrate all the procedures that he or she will undertake to minimize environmental risk and impact. No one can begin construction of a CFO or CAFO in Indiana before receiving a permit from IDEM. IDEM is also charged with periodic inspection of permitted farms.
How many CAFOs are there in Indiana?
There are currently around 650 farms classified as CFOs or CAFOs in Indiana.
More detailed information can be found here.
Visit Purdue's CAFO Site.
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Paul Ebner, PhD
Dept. of Animal Sciences