Fed Credit to CAFOs Requires Environmental Assessment

In March, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA)—which provides federal loans to farmers and ranchers—must assess the environmental impact of medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) before extending credit. The FSA adopted a regulation in 2016 exempting CAFOs that confine up to 1,000 beef cattle or 125,000 chickens from environmental impact review. The plaintiffs in the case sued the USDA in 2019 for failing to provide evidence-based justification for this exemption to review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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