Proposed environmental regulations that could have a profound effect on dairy farms will soon be open to public comment.

Environmental Protection Agency officials expect to have their proposed rule on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) published in the Federal Register on Jan. 12, followed immediately by a 120-day comment period.

Among other things, the proposed rule may change the definition of a CAFO to include any dairy with 350 or more cows rather than the existing standard of 700 or more cows. Regulated dairies would have to follow certain guidelines for handling manure. In areas where phosphorus runoff is a concern, dairies would have to apply manure to the soil according to prescribed phosphorus limits. That could double the amount of land required for manure disposal, in some instances, compared to the existing nitrogen standard.

Those who have concerns about the proposed CAFO rules may funnel their comments through the National Milk Producers Council, 2101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22201, or e-mail their comments to Carissa Itle at

Formal comments should be sent directly to EPA and addressed as follows: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Proposed Rule; Office of Water; Engineering and Analysis Division (4303); U.S. EPA; 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20460. Formal comments also may be e-mailed to: