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MDEQ Issues Permit Change to Further Limit CAFO Winter Manure Spreading

Paul F. Bohn, Esq.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a change to its permits for large farms as part of the state’s efforts to better protect Michigan waters from agricultural runoff. Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) were already limited in when and where they could spread manure, but the permit change applies those limits to operations receiving that manure as well.

We have written previously on Ohio’s efforts to combat the “harmful algae blooms” plaguing Lake Erie, and this effort by MDEQ is certainly part of Michigan’s response to protect Lake Erie.

CAFOs are not allowed to spread manure on frozen or snow-covered grounds except under very strict, limited circumstances, but they were previously allowed to transfer their excess manure to other operations not specifically prohibited from “winter spreading.”

Now, large farms are not permitted to transfer their farm waste to other operations from January through March unless the recipient follows the winter spreading standards. Witnesses at the hearings on the CAFO permit renewal said that the transferred manure, which was spread onto the recipients’ lands, was running into streams and drains as the snow was melting during the spring thaw. 

“The change is expected to further minimize incidents of farm runoff to surface waters during spring melts, and will safeguard Michigan's valuable water resources while providing a reasonable regulatory framework for farmers," said MDEQ in a press release.

This permit change has been in the works since December of last year, and a public hearing was held in January. The final product includes revisions based on public comment. Both the permit and the summary on public comments can be viewed on MDEQ’s website here:



Paul Bohn, partner at Fausone Bohn, LLP, has established a strong reputation in Michigan as a leading practitioner in environmental law. Mr. Bohn has been selected as a Michigan Super Lawyer since 2010 and was named one of the Top Attorneys in Michigan in 2014 by Crain’s Detroit Business. The team at Fausone Bohn, LLP has extensive experience dealing with MDEQ matters. If you need consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us at (248) 468-4536 or online at www.fb-firm.com

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