agriculture fAQ’s


Q: Who needs to have a Manure Management Plan?

A: Every farm operation in PA that land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer), regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan (MMP) that meets the requirements outlined in the Manure Management Manual (MMP).

Q: Who needs an Ag E&S (Erosion & Sediment) Plan?

A: All farms that plow and till soil greater than 5,000 Sq. ft, this includes no-till practices, must develop and implement a written Agricultural and Erosion Sedimentation Control Plan to reduce erosion. Bare areas created by animals, must also be addressed in this plan regardless of the number of animals.

Q: What Is a CAO (Concentrated Animal Operation)?

A: This would include farms that have 8 Animal Equivalent Units (AEU) and is over 2.0 AEU’s per acre (2,000 lbs) on an annualized basis, per acre of land suitable for manure application. Would be required to have and act 38 Nutrient management Plan (NMP).

Q: What is a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)?

A: This would include a farm that has 1000 or more Animal Units and are confined for more than 45 days year. CAFO’s are regulated by the PA DEP. Would be required to have and act 38 Nutrient management Plan (NMP).

Q: What is a VAO (Volunteer Animal Operation)?

 A: As a VAO you would be able to have a Nutrient Management Plan written by a certified plan writer that would help you manage your farm. A VAO status is when a farm is below the thresholds of CAO, or CAFO status. Act 38 NMP would be developed for the farmer to use.

Q: What is a NMP (Nutrient Management Plan)?

A:  Nutrient management plans are not new. All farmers have a plan for using the manure produced by their animals. In many cases, however, this plan is very informal and addresses only manure disposal and possibly the crop response to the manure nutrients; environmental concerns usually are not addressed. Changing regulations now require farmers to implement more formal nutrient management plans that address environmental issues. This applies to only a CAO or CAFO as being a part of the operation and in compliance. VAO’s would also have one written but is not by law needed.

Q: If facility only stores manure, has no animals and does not field apply manure, do they need a Manure Management Plan (MMP)?

A: Yes, the General Information and the Manure Storage section of the MMP must be completed and DEP regulations must be met.  Records of their manure storage activities must also be kept.

Q: What is the DEP policy concerning manure management for activities such as 4H projects?

A: If the project is being done on an existing animal operation there should not be any problems as long as the operation has an existing agricultural E&S and MMP. A few chickens or rabbits on a residential area should not be problematic. Larger animals such hogs or steers/cows may require a simple E&S and MMP. The animal confinement area should not be within 100 feet of any water body. Manure produced by the animals should be collected and be transported off of the property or land applied.

Q: How long should completed record forms be kept?

A: 3 years.

Q: If you have a Manure Management Plan, you follow that plan, and you have manure run-off to a creek, would this be a violation?

A: It may be, if the plan did not follow MMP requirements or the plan was not implemented at all. If the plan was developed properly and implemented correclty, but run-off to a stream as result of large storm that could not be planned for, a violation would not be given.

Q: How close can manure be spread to a road side ditch?

A: If a ditch is dry and only conveys flowing water after a rain event setbacks do not apply. If the ditch usually contains flowing water at the time of year the manure is applied, stream setbacks apply. However, manure may NOT be applied in a non-vegetated waterway at any time.

Q: What defines growing season and winter non-growing season?

A: The growing season is usually considered the month of April to the end of October. However, if areas meet the criteria of an ACA any time of the year, they must be managed as an ACA during that time.

Q: Does stream bank fencing require a setback?

A: The DEP fencing program requires a 35 foot setback. If the fencing is to prevent streambank damage from animal activity, it may be reduced if the farmer is doing the fencing on his own. However, if the fencing is to restrict animal access to a stream from an existing ACA, the size of the ACA and site conditions must be taken into consideration to ensure that adequate filter capacity of the near stream vegetated area is enough to stop polluted water from the ACA from entering a water body.

Q: Are the Manure Application Rates listed on the MMP Summary good for only one year?

A: No, you can use the Manure Application Rates documented in this summary chart for multiple years, until there is a change in farm management requiring a change in the plan, at which time the most recent Manure Application Rate Tables should be used to develop new rates for the MMP Summary Chart.

Q: What is the difference between Farmland Preservation and Ag Security?

A: It is the purpose of the Farmland Preservation Program is to protect viable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements which prevent the development or improvement of the land for any purpose other than agricultural production. Ag security is different in that in order to preserve a farm it must be enrolled in the Agricultural Security Area program. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the farming community's sense of security in land use and the right to farm.

Q: What is the CREP program?

A: CREP stands for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which is an agriculture program. This means, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the program that utilizes federal and non-federal funds to remove environmentally sensitive from production. The landowner will be paid to set some of their land away, unable to be farmed, for a certain amount of time (usually 10-15 years). This provides wildlife with habitat as well as to prevent soil loss and erosion.

Q: What is the Clean and Green program?

A: This is a tax assessment program, that bases property taxes on land use rather than fair market values. Enacted in 1974, this program is used to encourage protection of Pennsylvania’s valued farmland, forestland, and open spaces.



NMP- Nutrient Management Plan

MMP- Manure Management Plan

ACA- Animal Concentration Area

Ag E&S- Agricultural Erosion & Sediment

CAO- Concentrated Animal Operation

CAFO- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation

VAO- Volunteer Animal Operation

AU- Animal Units

AEU- Animal Equivalent Units

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