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AFO Rules & Regulations

State Capitol
State agencies are responsible for implementing laws passed by the Iowa General Assembly. State agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources write rules to implement the laws. The following links can help you find specific sections of administrative rules or laws governing animal feeding operations. You can also find an explanation of the rule process and how the DNR provides public notice and seeks public comment on proposed rules before they are finalized. There is also a link to information about federal rules governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

New Rule Proposals

When new rules are proposed, the DNR seeks public input by holding one or more public hearings. Anyone who wants to comment on the rule proposal can attend a public hearing and make a comment. Or, they can submit written comments to the appropriate person at the DNR provided the comments are received before the closing date for public input.

After public hearings close, the DNR summarizes the public comments and may make changes in the proposed rule based on those comments.

Notices of Intended Action

The DNR currently has no proposed rules out for public content.

Check back for new legislation as the General Assembly passes laws affecting animal feeding operations.

Recently Approved Rules
Check back for updated rules.

Finding Current Rules

The Iowa Administrative Code includes all rules written by state agencies, including the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or DNR. The rules are written to administer state laws.

The DNR has rules regarding air quality, water supplies, water rights, wastewater permits, water quality standards, animal feeding operations (mostly in chapter 65), storm water permits and flood plain management. These rules are included under the Environmental Protection Agency's identification number 567 - Chapters 32, 38 to 49, 50 to 55, 60 to 65, and 70 to 76.

Most of the rules affecting animal feeding operations are found in Chapter 65 along with Chapters 64, 63, 61 and 60.
To look for a specific chapter:

  1. Go to the Iowa Administrative Code website.
  2. Look for Natural Resources Department, Environmental Protection Commission.
  3. Click on the pdf for Chapter 65.

Iowa Laws Regarding Animal Feeding Operations

The Iowa Code includes all laws passed by the Iowa General Assembly. To find the specific section of Iowa Code relating to animal feeding operations:

   1. Click on Iowa Code
   2. Then click on the code (year) and merged supplement (current version).
   3. The Animal Agriculture Compliance Act is found in chapter 459. You can enter the chapter number in the Chapter field and if you know the section, enter that in the Section field. Then click Get Section. A listing of all the sections is displayed. To view a specific section, click on the chapter/section number.

The last major confinement feeding operation law change came with Senate File 2293 in April 2002.

Approval Process for New Rules

Environmental Protection Commission: The nine-member Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) provides policy oversight for Iowa's environmental protection efforts. The EPC must approve rule changes proposed by the DNR.

Generally the EPC will see a rule proposal three times. First, as an information item. Second, as a decision item or "notice of intended action." Finally, after public comment and public hearings, the EPC can decide to approve, modify or disapprove the final rule. Changes can and do occur in proposed rules until the final rule has been approved by the Environmental Protection Commission and published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin.

Public Notification of Rules

Before the DNR's rules are adopted, they are published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin as a "notice of intended action." Any interested person may submit comments on the proposed rules within time frames set forth in the notice. All notices must allow at least 20 days for people to submit comments or to request an oral presentation.

The Iowa Administrative Bulletin is the official notice of all changes to the rules of the Administrative Code and all other documents which pertain to the business of the Administrative Rules Review Committee.

The DNR may not adopt the rules until 35 days after the date the notice of intended action is published. Following notice and adoption, the final rules are again published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin. They become effective at a date specified with the final rule. Normally the DNR must allow at least 35 days from the date of publication for people to prepare to implement the rules.

Federal Rules

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. This program includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) rule.

In Iowa, EPA delegates enforcement of the NPDES program to the DNR. Livestock and poultry producers need to follow state law and state regulations. The DNR will issue the federal NPDES permits as it has since 1972. Iowa's open feedlots that are greater than 1,000 animal units must decide if they will apply for an NPDES permit. Confinement feeding operations have not needed NPDES permits under federal law, because state law does not allow confinements to discharge to waters of the state.

Helpful Links: The EPA has recently made some rule changes regarding concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) due to court cases. The Iowa DNR administers these rules and goes through the normal rulemaking process to implement these rules. The EPA rules and rule history are available on its CAFO website.