Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

Photo courtsey of Farm Sanctuary


Although the term is sometimes used loosely to refer to any factory farm, "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation" (CAFO) is a designation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and has a very specific meaning. A CAFO is an Animal Feeding Operation that meets certain criteria set by the EPA.

According to the EPA, an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) is an operation in which "animals are kept and raised in confined situations.

AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland."

CAFO's are AFO's that fall under one of the EPA's definitions of Large, Medium or Small CAFO's, depending on the number of animals involved, how wastewater and/or manure are managed, and whether the operation is "a significant contributor of pollutants."

Also Known As: Confined Agricultural Feeding Operation

Examples: Neighbors of Confined Animal Feeding Operations frequently complain of pollution and health issues.