All confinements (totally roofed operations), including small animal feeding operations, are required to follow state regulations when building or operating a facility, including retaining all manure until it is land applied. For existing confinement feeding operations, most requirements concern manure management and land application. See Current Requirements for more information.

ConstructionProposed new, and existing confinement feeding operations that plan to expand or modify the operation, may also have to:

  • apply for a construction permit prior to building, modifying or expanding,
  • follow construction standards when building,
  • develop and submit a manure management plan prior to building.

The exact pre-construction requirements will depend upon the size and type of operation being proposed. Producers who are planning a change in an existing confinement feeding operation or building a new operation should allow time for permit applications to be approved. Look for the specific requirements under Construction Requirements.

For new construction, choosing a good site may be one of the most important decisions a producer can make. The DNR's AFO Siting Atlas may help producers choose the optimum site for a proposed facility.

Current Requirements

For already existing confinement feeding operations, most requirements concern manure management and land application. Even small animal feeding operations (500 or less animal unit capacity) must at a minimum:

  • retain all manure on site between periods of land application,
  • observe land application separation distances,
  • report any manure releases and
  • correctly dispose of dead animals factsheet.


Larger confinement feeding operations (more than 500 animal unit capacity) must also have an approved manure management plan and use a certified manure applicator to apply manure.

For more information about required manure management and other requirements, see the manure management page.

Producers interested in stockpiling dry manure should see either of the following fact sheets:

Additional requirements may apply to confinement feeding operations as a condition of a construction permit, including land application restrictions required as part of the Master Matrix operational conditions.

For confinement feeding operations that plan to modify or expand an existing site, or build a new site, see the Construction Requirements to determine the specific regulations that apply.

Small Animal Truck Wash Facilities

Owners of small livestock truck washing businesses no longer need a permit for land application. However, wastewater must not cause runoff or water quality violations during land application. All equipment washed at the facility must be owned by the same person and the monthly average of wash water must average 2,000 gallons per day or less. Livestock truck washes that do not qualify as small, should contact Paul Petitti at the Spencer field office for permitting requirements. Facilities washing other types of trucks, in addition to livestock, must obtain a wastewater operation permit to land apply. Find instructions in the Land Application Manual.

State Requirements
Confinement feeding operations that plan to build, modify or expand must meet state requirements for the new construction. It is important to determine as early as possible, at least 120 days before you plan to begin construction, what size the proposed operation will be and the type of manure storage that will be used. Once size and type of storage are known, you can determine which state requirements must be met.

Confinement staff

Left: Determine the finished confinement's size and type of manure storage at least 120 days before construction is scheduled to begin. Those two factors will determine which state regulations apply to a proposed operation.  

Determining size of operation:
To determine the size of your proposed operation, calculate the animal unit capacity or AUC. Caution: If you have ownership or management in another operation that is or will be located within one-half mile of the proposed site; or that would be sharing a common area or system for manure disposal, irregardless of the distance, the two operations may be considered one operation and the animal unit capacities of both must be added together to determine the size of the operation. Please contact the DNR field office engineer in Spencer at 712-262-4177 for assistance in determining if two adjacent operations are considered as one.

Determining storage type: There are two basic types of storage, formed and unformed. Formed manure storage structures usually have concrete or steel walls and floors, and must be strong enough to withstand internal and external load pressures. Unformed manure storage structures or earthen basins include anaerobic lagoons, earthen aerobic structures and earthen manure storage basins. If a combination of formed and unformed storage will be used, the requirements for the unformed storage apply.

Right: Formed manure storage structures built of concrete must meet concrete standards that went into effect on March 24, 2004.

Types of confinement feeding operations: Based on size and storage type, there are three basic categories of confinement feeding operations:

   1. Permitted - A construction permit is required prior to building, modifying or expanding all sizes of operations that use unformed storage. A construction permit is also required prior to building, modifying or expanding an operation that uses formed storage if the final animal unit capacity will be 1,000 animal units or more. See pre-construction requirements and design standards.

   2. Non-permitted - Formed Manure Storage - A construction permit is not required for building, modifying or expanding a confinement feeding operation with a proposed animal unit capacity from 501 to 999 animal units that uses formed storage. However, pre-construction requirements and design standards must be met before construction begins. See pre-construction requirements.

   3. Small - Formed Manure Storage - Neither a construction permit or a manure management plan are required for small operations, 500 or less animal units, that use formed manure storage, but some pre-construction requirements apply. See pre-construction requirements.

Producers can use a summary (*.pdf file) of requirements for all three types of confinement feeding operations to determine what they need to submit.

CAUTION: This web page summarizes Iowa laws, including the DNR's administrative rules. While every effort is made to keep this page current and accurate, there are frequent changes to the laws governing animal feeding operations; the law will prevail in the event of a conflict between this web page and the law . We encourage users to consult Iowa Code Chapter 459 and 567 Iowa Administrative Code chapter 65 for current statutory provisions and administrative rules.

Manure Storage Structures
There are two main types of manure storage structures for confinement feeding operations: formed and unformed. A manure storage structure does not include egg washwater storage structures.

Formed structures usually have concrete or steel walls and sides. By definition, a formed manure storage structure means a covered or uncovered impoundment used to store manure from an animal feeding operation, which has walls and a floor constructed of concrete, concrete block, wood, steel, or similar materials. Similar materials may include, but are not limited to, plastic, rubber, fiberglass, or other synthetic materials. Materials used in a formed manure storage structure shall have the structural integrity to withstand expected internal and external load pressures. 

Manure storage

Left: A formed manure storage structure made of steel. Middle: A concrete formed manure storage structure overflowed after the producer accidentally left a hose running. State law requires producers to keep the liquid manure level at least one foot below the top of a formed structure. Right: A common type of manure storage used in Iowa for swine operations is the below-building pit. The manure is removed and land applied as a fertilizer for crops. Photo courtesy of ISU Extension.

Unformed manure storage structures include several types of impoundments, built of soil or earth. These earthen storage basins were very popular in Iowa until the mid-1990s, when concerns about their usage prompted legislative changes that encouraged formed storage. By definition, an unformed manure storage structure means a covered or uncovered impoundment used to store manure, other than a formed manure storage structure, which includes an anaerobic lagoon, aerobic structure or earthen manure storage basin.   Manure storage

Left: Manure agitation and removal from an unformed manure storage structure.

Right: Lagoon used for storage of liquid swine manure is an unformed manure storage structure.

Manure Management Plans for Confinements

What is an MMP?
A manure management plan (MMP) is a tool for producers to use when they plan their nutrient placement to optimize crop production. Filling out an MMP helps producers identify the amount of manure being produced, the nutrient concentration in the manure, the number of acres that are required for land application and the amount that will be applied to each available acre. Mid-size and large producers are required by state law to fill out and submit an MMP to the DNR. MMPs are based on the nitrogen uptake needs of the crop. All plans must consider the phosphorus index as they are developed.

Who Needs a Plan?
Iowa law requires that a manure management plan (MMP) be submitted to the DNR for confinement feeding operations (totally roofed)  meeting any of the following criteria:

  • The operation has an animal unit capacity of more than 500 animal units and the operation was constructed or expanded after May 31, 1985;
  • The operation proposes to construct a manure storage structure and will have an animal unit capacity of more than 500 animal units; or,
  • A person applies manure from a confinement feeding operation located outside of Iowa on land in Iowa (does not apply if the operation's capacity is 500 animal units or less).

Manure management plans are not required for open feedlots, except when specifically required as part of a permit or an agreement with the DNR. Owners of a combination open feedlot and confinement operation must file a manure management plan (MMP) for the confinement operation if the confinement facilities have capacity for more than 500 animal units. The combined operation may also need a nutrient management plan (NMP). See combined operations for more information.

Submittal Deadlines

Annual Submittals for Existing Sites:
Livestock and poultry producers who must have a manure management plan (MMP) have been required to submit an annual update of the plan since 2002. If you have an MMP on file, you should submit the annual update of your MMP to the county board(s) of supervisors or designated representative (where the facility is located and to counties where manure will be spread) and to the DNR with any changes from the current plan.

The plans are due on the first of the month on a staggered deadline throughout the year and must be on DNR forms. Producers keep the same due date every year. However, as of June 30, 2009, the DNR no longer mails reminder letters before the date that the plan is due. Instead, producers can check the AFO database to see when their plan is due.

All annual submittals (see MMP Short form 542-8162) should be sent to the appropriate DNR field office. Producers are required by state law to pay an annual compliance fee when the annual updates are submitted (see Fee form 542-8064. If you are expanding or modifying your operation, you will need to submit an original MMP.

Updated MMP Submittals with the P Index:
Every fourth year, producers are required to submit a complete MMP (form 542-4000) which includes the P-Index based on updated soil tests. The complete form should be submitted following the instructions under Original MMP Submittals (see below). Check the AFO database for due dates for P-index plan updates.

Original MMP Submittals:
An original or first-time submittal of an MMP is required for the following facilities that need to have an MMP:

  • new sites,
  • existing sites (including poultry) that need a manure management plan (MMP) but have not previously submitted one,
  • sites that have a change of ownership, or
  • sites that have an existing MMP that is not on DNR forms.

If this MMP is a first-time submittal for the site, a copy must be provided to the DNR, to the county board of supervisors or designated representative where the facility is located and to any counties where manure will be spread.

If a construction permit is not needed: State law also requires producers to pay a $250 filing fee for the first-time (original) submittal of an MMP and an indemnity fee of $0.10 per animal unit, if the facility was constructed or expanded after May 31, 1995 (see Indemnity Fee form 542-4021.

If applying for a construction permit: Applicants for a construction permit, including those for sites with a change in ownership, should use the forms in the Construction Permit Application (542-1428). Send the MMP to the DNR Spencer field office at Iowa DNR, Animal Feeding Operations Permitting, 1900 N. Grand, Gateway North, Suite E17, Spencer, IA 51301. For questions about permits, contact Paul Petitti at 712-262-4177. All other MMPs should be sent to the appropriate DNR field office, listed on the form.

Dry Manure Sales under 200 or 200A: Confinement feeding operations that sell manure under Chapter 200 or 200A (licensed under the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship) may submit an abbreviated MMP (form 542-8069) to the DNR along with a copy of the IDALS license. An updated copy of the IDALS license must be submitted with annual updates. The MMP form and IDALS license must also be submitted to the board of supervisors (or designated representative) in the county where the facility is located and to counties where manure will be applied. See Fees listed below for information on the annual compliance fee, the filing fee and the indemnity fee.

Annual Compliance and Other Fees

Annual compliance: An annual compliance fee of $0.15 per animal unit is required whenever the updated annual manure management plan (MMP) is submitted. The annual fee is required for those operations that already have an MMP and are not expanding or modifying a structure. Fees can be paid and submitted with the DNR form 542-8064 or 542-8064.

Original MMP: A $250 filing fee is required when an original (first time) MMP is filed (whether the site must have a construction permit or not). Original MMPs are required for first time submittals and when a site is expanding, modifying, or changing ownership of a structure. Producers who submit an original MMP should pay only the $250 filing fee and the indemnity fee, using form 542-4021 or 542-4021 if a permit is not required.

Operations that need to apply for a construction permit to build a new confinement, or expand or modify an existing facility are required to pay a $250 construction permit application fee in addition to the fees above. Fees can be submitted with form 542-1428.

Indemnity fees: A manure storage indemnity fee (one-time fee) must be paid when constructing or expanding an operation or when changing ownership of the operation. The fee is $0.10 per animal unit if a construction permit is not required. It is $0.10 per animal unit when changing ownership if not expanding or modifying the manner or volume of in which manure is stored. However, if applying for a construction permit, this fee varies according to the animal species and size of the operation. (see Form 542-1428 or 542-1428).

County Verification and Responsibilities
The producer or the applicant for a construction permit is required to send a manure management plan (MMP) to the board of supervisors in the county where a facility is located and in the counties where manure is applied. The board or a designated representative of the board must verify that the MMP has been received. For unpermitted and existing permitted sites, receipt of the MMP ends the county's obligation. Producers must have the county sign a verification form, DNR form 542-8046 or 542-8046 and return it to the DNR.

For MMPs that are received with an application for a construction permit, the county is required to provide public notice that a permitted confinement feeding operation is proposed. The county may elect to hold a public hearing and to provide comments to the DNR. Producers must have the county sign the DNR verification form 542-1428 and return it to the DNR. In counties that have adopted the master matrix, the county has the obligation to review the construction permit application using the master matrix and make a recommendation to approve or disapprove the application to the DNR. For more information, see the Master Matrix and Construction Permits.

Phosphorus Index-based Plans
Senate File 2293 phased in phosphorus index-based manure management plans (MMPs) through August 2008, with the longest implementation dates given to those who already had an MMP on file with the DNR. The schedule below indicates when producers needed to submit phosphorus index-based plans

Implementation Date for P Index-based plans

Original MMP Submitted P Index-based MMP due
Prior to April 1, 2002 First annual update after Aug. 25, 2008
Between April 1, 2002 and Oct. 24, 2004 First annual update after Aug. 25, 2006
On or after Oct. 25, 2004 Upon submittal

For more information on P index-based plans.

Land Application
Confinement feeding operations must continue to comply with other manure application requirements, including separation distances and applying manure without polluting state waters. For more information, see the section on manure applicator certification.

Producers are required by state law to keep records for five years of manure application and make them available to DNR for review. There are some record keeping requirements for commercial manure applicators as well. For more information, see land application of manure. The DNR provides a recordkeeping form which producers can use, form 542-8002 or 542-8002.

Requirements for Manure Management Plan (MMP) Forms

To be acceptable, the manure management plans (MMPs) must meet specific criteria outlined in Iowa law and DNR rules, including basing maximum applications on the nitrogen and phosphorus needs of the crops being grown, identifying the specific land areas on which manure will be applied, and specifying planned application methods and timing. The original plans are filed with the DNR and the appropriate county(ies), and a current plan must be maintained within a 30-mile radius of the operation and made available for review by DNR staff.

Read the Instructions and Introduction for information about who must submit an MMP, who must submit annual updates, what parts of the form must be filled out and what parts are optional, new fee requirements, calculating animal units and where to submit your plan or plan update. Or, the MMP fact sheet also has additional information.

Producers filing plans with DNR should use one of the DNR forms listed below:

  • The MMP form 542-4000 is available as a document, spreadsheet or a pdf. It includes both nitrogen-based and phosphorus index-based plans.
  • The short version of the form 542-8162 or 542-8162 can be used for annual updates.
  • An abbreviated MMP form 542-8069 or 542-8069 can be used for sales of dry manure under Chapter 200 or 200A.
  • Additional information and reference tables can be found in Appendix A.