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Agricultural Environmental Management

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The Agricultural Environmental Management Services (AEMS) Division is dedicated to working with producers and concerned citizens in protecting the state’s soils, air and waters from animal waste. AEMS was created by the Oklahoma state legislature in 1997 to help develop, coordinate and oversee environmental policies and programs primarily related to poultry, cattle and swine. Its primary responsibilities are to implement the Oklahoma Agriculture Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Act, the Oklahoma Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Act, the Swine Feeding Operations Act, the Oklahoma Registered Poultry Feeding Operations Act, and the Oklahoma Poultry Waste Applicators Certification Act. These programs include the licensing, registration and inspection of poultry, beef and swine growing and feeding facilities. Additionally, AEMS is responsible for licensing agricultural compost facilities.

The AEMS Division has nine field inspectors stationed across the state of Oklahoma. Due to the poultry industry being located in eastern Oklahoma, five inspectors are responsible for covering 22 counties located in that part of the state. Their main job duties are assisting the approximately 600 poultry facilities in following the Oklahoma laws that cover the poultry industry.

AEMS has an additional four Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) inspectors who are responsible for covering all 77 counties. The state currently has approximately 266 licensed CAFO facilities. These four CAFO inspectors assist the CAFO facilities in following the Oklahoma laws that cover the swine and cattle industry.

All AEMS inspectors respond to citizen complaints regarding agriculture-related odor issues, potential improper carcass disposal issues, possible waste management issues, and possible water contamination.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations & Swine Feeding Operations
Some swine, beef and poultry operations are licensed in the state as CAFOs. There are approximately 266 such defined CAFOs in Oklahoma. The rules developed to license and regulate CAFOs are designed to provide environmentally responsible construction of CAFOs and to protect the state’s ground and surface waters. CAFOs are also required to develop Pollution Prevention Plans, which address carcass disposal, an erosion control plan, recordkeeping procedures, and best management practices, as well as an animal waste management plan (AWMP) or a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP). Swine facilities are also required to have a pest management plan and odor abatement plan.

In December 2012, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) received authorization from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to administer agriculture-related Clean Water Act discharge permits. This is a permitting program for CAFOs, and under certain conditions, it authorizes discharges to Waters of the U.S. Upon authorization, ODAFF referred to this program as the Agriculture Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AgPDES) program. Additionally, the AgPDES program addresses the application of biological or chemical pesticides, discharges from forestry activities, and when applicable, construction storm water runoff at agricultural operations.

Registered Poultry Feeding Operations
The ODAFF rules for Registered Poultry Feeding Operations (PFOs) are designed to control poultry nonpoint source pollution and discharges from poultry waste application at the PFO. This is done primarily through the registration of the facility with AEMS and with the development of an AWMP/CNMP for each facility. This plan addresses proper land application of poultry waste at appropriate agronomic rates for the crops to which the waste is being applied and minimizes the impact to surface and ground waters. There are approximately 600 PFOs registered in the state.
Registered Poultry Waste Applicators
The ODAFF rules for Poultry Waste Applicators (PWA) are designed to help ensure that poultry litter is applied to Oklahoma’s fields and pastures in a responsible manner and at appropriate agronomic rates. This is done primarily through the issuance of private and commercial applicators licenses and a requirement for licensees to attend education classes and maintain continuing educational hours. Both private and commercial applicators are required to submit an annual report each year which provides information about the litter spread during the previous fiscal year.
Agricultural Compost Facilities
Some composting facilities in Oklahoma are licensed by AEMS. The AEMS composting license applies to any person who owns or operates any compost facility using source materials within the ODAFF’s areas of environmental jurisdiction unless the person is producing compost solely for personal use and not for commercial purposes. The rules developed to license and regulate composting facilities are designed to provide environmentally responsible management of the composting location and handling of leachate and composted material. Facilities are required to develop and submit a composting plan which addresses the location, material used, and other specific information about the operation and management of the composting facility.
AEMS has established an inspection program that evaluates individual livestock and poultry facilities for potential statute and rule violations. All CAFOs and registered poultry operations are inspected at least annually by AEMS inspectors. The inspectors look for potential environmental/compliance problems as well as direct discharges of animal wastes to waters of the state and examine on-site records. The inspector and the AEMS Compliance Section determine if there are any violations or if the facility is in compliance. Deficiencies are noted with required corrective actions to remedy the violations. Follow-up visits by the inspector are important, as operators who fail to take corrective actions to correct the violations are referred to the main office for further enforcement action.
Complaint Resolution
Complaints from the public help identify problems so that AEMS can direct the resources necessary to correct the pollution. Self-reported discharges or releases from animal facilities are also reported to AEMS. AEMS inspectors who live in different parts of the state provide quick response in investigating complaints related to discharges or disposal of animal wastes. Between 2009 and 2013, AEMS inspectors investigated approximately 610 complaints.

A complaint regarding animals may be filed with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry by calling the complaint hotline at (800) 235-9877. This phone is manned between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. After business hours you may leave a message on the voice mail or if there is an emergency you will need to follow the instructions on the voice mail.

All information received is considered public information so, if you do not want your name or any identifying information made public, please indicate that the complaint is anonymous. If you file your complaint as anonymous, we will not be able to contact you regarding the resolution of the complaint.

For further information related to AEMS responsibilities and program specific information, please refer to the options on the left side of the screen.

Jeremy Seiger's signature

Jeremy Seiger
ODAFF Agricultural Environmental Management Services Division