Regulations for Large Farm Operations (LFOs)

 

Downloadable Documents & Helpful Links

 

Introduction to the LFO Program

Created in 1995, the Large Farm Operation (LFO) program is designed to ensure that Vermont LFOs have land management practices implemented and structures in place in production areas in order to prevent a direct discharge. The LFO program requires large sized farms to operate under an individual LFO permit. The program's requirements exceed those of the Federal Clean Water Act and aims to reduce the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients that would find their way into Vermont waterways. The LFO Individual Permit establishes regulatory requirements for Large Farm Operations in the state of Vermont pertaining to the management of agricultural wastes and prohibits the direct discharge of waste into state waters.  Unless otherwise given notice by the Agency, all large farm operations in the state of Vermont are required to operate under the coverage of an Individual Permit. Large Farm Operation Individual Permits are valid until amended or terminated. 
 
 

LFO Definition

 
A LFO is defined as: The production area, the barns, the land devoted to waste storage and other agricultural structures, including those created as waste management systems constructed to prevent direct discharges to waters of the state or to prevent groundwater from exceeding state groundwater quality standards, designed, adapted, or used to operate a farm in which the barn or barns are designed to house more than:
 
1. 700 mature dairy animals, whether milked or dry; or
2. 700 bulls; or
3. 1000 cattle, cow/calf pairs, young stock, or heifers; or
4. 1000 veal calves; or
5. 2500 swine weighing over 55 pounds; or
6. 10,000 swine weighing less than 55 pounds; or
7. 500 horses; or
8. 10,000 sheep or lambs; or
9. 55,000 turkeys; or
10. 30,000 laying hens with a liquid manure handling system; or
11. 82,000 laying hens without a liquid manure handling system;
12. 125,000 chickens other than laying hens without a liquid manure handling system; or
13. 5000 ducks with a liquid manure handling system; or
14. 30,000 ducks without a liquid manure handling system; or
15. any other animal type and number that the Secretary may deem to fit this category if:
15-a. Such livestock or domestic fowl are confined for more than 45 days and in an area where vegetation is not sustained during the growing season; and
15-b. Such livestock or domestic fowl are in a barn or adjacent barns owned by the same person; or
15-c. The barns, collectively designed to house the threshold number of livestock or domestic fowl, owned by the same person, share a common border or
15-d. The barns, owned by the same person, which have the potential to collectively house the threshold number of livestock or domestic fowl, share a common waste disposal system; or,
15-e. If any barns, owned by any person, where the threshold number of livestock or domestic fowl are collectively housed, share a common waste disposal system or fields.
 

LFO Rules

LFOs must to adhere to the Large Farm Operation Rules at all times. Outlined below are the general standards and procedures to follow in order to remain in compliance:
  • The permittee shall ensure that all structures and practices shall be operated and maintained in accordance with the requirements and recommendations detailed in the appropriate practice code in Vermont NRCS Field Office Technical Guide Section IV, or an equivalent standard as recommended in writing by the permittee’s hired professional engineer licensed in the state of Vermont. 
  • The permittee shall ensure that adequate waste management structures are managed to assure that there are no direct discharges of wastes from the LFO facility to waters of the state or to prevent groundwater from exceeding state standards. 
  • The permittee shall operate and maintain the waste storage facility to prevent direct discharges to waters of the state or to prevent groundwater from exceeding state standards by removal of material to avoid overtopping, and to create space for the ongoing generation of waste. 
  • The permittee shall ensure that the LFO facility, cropland, and non-cropland will be managed in compliance with all applicable AAPs and these Rules. 
  • The permittee shall ensure that all wastes which are land applied, are applied according to a nutrient management plan which meets the requirements of these Rules. 
  • The permittee shall ensure that the LFO facility shall not generate odors of a type different than, or in excess of those from a well-managed similar sized farm of the same animal type using a similar waste management system. The Agency will use the technical components of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers published Standards and Engineering Practices Data, ASAE EP379.1 DEC96, AControl of Manure Odors@ as the standard when addressing livestock or domestic fowl manure odor issues. 
  • The permittee shall ensure the LFO facility shall not create noise disturbances in excess of those from a well-managed similar sized farm of the same animal type. 
  • The permittee shall ensure the LFO facility shall not generate traffic flows and frequency at a greater level than those from a well-managed similar sized farm of the same animal type. LFO Rules Page 20 
  • The permittee shall ensure that the LFO facility will not generate or breed flies, insects, or other pests above a level where adult flies, insects, or other pests moving off the farm premises are in excess of those from a well-managed similar sized farm of the same animal type. 
  • The LFO shall implement erosion and sediment control conservation practices when land clearing, field drainage, ditching, or other field preparation or improvement activities, to prevent movement of sediment to waters of the state, groundwater, or across property boundaries. 
  • All storage of compost and the resulting leachate shall be managed to prevent a discharge to waters of the state and to prevent groundwater from exceeding state groundwater quality standards, and in accordance with the NMP. 
  • Compost and compost leachate shall be collected and spread on land in accordance with a NMP and without causing a discharge to waters of the state or to cause groundwater to exceed state groundwater quality standards, and in accordance with the NMP.

LFO Program Rules (pdf)

New LFO operations must carefully review both the LFO Rules and the General Permit for Large Farm Operations before completing the following forms: 

All new LFOs must have a field-by-field Nutrient Management Plan developed by a certified nutrient management planner or the permittee prior to commencing operation. 
 

How to Maintain and/or Update Existing LFO Permit

When requesting permit amendments and modifications, a letter of intent must be submitted to the Secretary for review. Examples of activities that require a permit amendment prior to implementation include, but are not limited to:

  • Building animal housing
  • Increasing herd size above a permitted number
  • Importing wastes such as digester substrates or manure
 
Annual Reporting Requirements: Permitted LFOs must submit an annual report to the VAAFM February 15 of each year.
Nutrient Management Planning: As part of the required Annual Reporting Requirements, LFOs must have an up-to-date Nutrient Management Plan and accurate nutrient (manure & fertilizer) application records.
 
Water Withdrawal and Use:
Proposed Construction: A Proposed Construction Form: must be filled out prior to any proposed construction (including waste management systems and barns as well as additions and/or expansion of existing structures)
Increasing Animal Numbers: An Animal Increase Form must be filled out when proposing to increase animal numbers above permitted number
Importing Waste: A Substrate/Waste Import Form must be filled out for all wastes imported or proposed to be imported to LFO
Transferring ownership of a LFO:  A LFO may transfer General Permit coverage with the sale or lease of a farm. Written notification shall be made by the original permittee to the Agency within 10 days of that transaction. Written notification shall include a statement signed by the new owner or lessee which indicates that the new owner or lessee understands and agrees to comply with the conditions of the transferred LFO permit.   The new owner or lessee shall notify the Secretary in writing within 30 days of that transaction, describing any proposed changes in operation or facilities. No increase in number of animal type is allowed to occur without a full review of the operation by the VAAFM.
Terminating Ownership of LFO: A LFO may terminate its individual permit coverage if it falls below the animal threshold for a LFO or is going out of business. The Notice of Termination must be submitted within 90 days of the termination of operations.
  • Notice of LFO Termination (pdf)
Reporting an incident on a LFO: If for any reason there is a discharge of wastes from the production area to the waters of the state, the permittee shall notify the Agency orally within 24 hours from the time that the permittee became aware of the discharge. A written Incident Report shall be provided within 5 days of the discharge.
  • LFO Incident Report (pdf)