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Livestock Management Facilities Program


​ The Livestock Management Facilities Act protects your right as a citizen to a safe, clean environment as well as the right of livestock farmers to earn a living. It concludes animal agriculture is important to Illinois' economy and should be maintained, but farmers have a responsibility to be good neighbors. 

The act, which was adopted in 1996 and amended in 1998, 1999 and 2007, also recognizes market forces are rapidly changing the livestock industry. Farmers increasingly are having to expand their operations to remain in business, and this trend toward expanded farms has created a need for safeguards to protect your interests and theirs.

The Act establishes requirements for the design, construction and operation of livestock management and livestock waste-handling facilities. It also establishes specific procedures and criteria for the siting of such facilities and outlines the public information meeting process.

Notice of Intent to Construct

The initial step in the application process is the submittal of a Notice of Intent To Construct (NOITC) a livestock management and/or waste handling facility form to the Department for review. The Notice of Intent to Construct form provides information regarding a projects location, size, type, and possible compliance with the setback provisions of the statute which are discussed below. 

The Department reviews the application form and, if it determines that the application meets all applicable provisions of the Livestock Management Facilities Act, issues an acknowledgement of setback compliance to the applicant. If the size and/or project type qualifies for a possible public informational meeting, the Department sends notice to the county board and offers to schedule and conduct such a meeting. A listing of NOITC's currently under consideration by the Department can be viewed by clicking on the previous link.

Public Informational Meeting Process


A public informational meeting can be requested whenever a new livestock management or waste-handling facility is proposed that will either: a) house 1,000 or more animal units or b) use an earthen lagoon to handle animal waste. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that you receive accurate information about the proposed facility. The Livestock Management Facilities Act requires farmers wanting to build a new facility to file a notice of intent to construct with the department. The filing of this notice triggers a five-step process to review the farmer's application as follows:

  1. The Department of Agriculture will send a copy of the notice to your county board and publish a public notice in a local newspaper.

  2. After receiving the notice, your county board has 30 days to request a public informational meeting about the project. During this time, any county resident can petition the board to request a meeting by gathering the signatures of 75 or more registered county voters.

  3. If requested, the Department of Agriculture will hold an informational meeting within 15 days of the board's request. At the meeting, you will hear a description of the proposed project from the owner or operator and have an opportunity to ask questions. You also may present oral or written comments regarding the project.

  4. No later than 30 days after the meeting, your county board is required to submit an advisory, non-binding recommendation to the Department concerning the facility's construction.

  5. After this 30-day period ends, the Department has 15 days to review the application and the board's recommendation and determine whether the proposed facility meets provisions of the Livestock Management Facilities Act. If it finds additional information is required to reach a decision, the Department can request such information. In such cases, the decision will be made after the owner of the proposed facility responds to the additional information request.

Siting Criteria

The Livestock Management Facilities Act establishes eight siting criteria that must be met by a new livestock management or waste-handling facility. Because these criteria form the basis of your county board's recommendation and have a significant role in the decision of whether or not the proposed facility is approved, they should be addressed in your comments at the informational meeting. Specifically, the act seeks to determine:

  1. Whether registration and livestock waste management plan certification requirements, if required, are met by the notice of intent to construct.

  2. Whether the design, location, or proposed operation will protect the environment by being consistent with this Act.

  3. Whether the location minimizes any incompatibility with the surrounding area's character by being located in any area zoned for agriculture where the county has zoning or where the county is not zoned, the setback requirements established by this Act are complied with.

  4. Whether the facility is located within a 100-year floodplain or an otherwise environmentally sensitive area (defined as an area of karst area or with aquifer material within 5 feet of the bottom of the livestock waste handling facility) and whether construction standards set forth in the notice of intent to construct are consistent with the goal of protecting the safety of the area.

  5. Whether the owner or operator has submitted plans for operation that minimize the likelihood of any environmental damage to the surrounding area from spills, runoff, and leaching.

  6. Whether odor control plans are reasonable and incorporate reasonable or innovative odor reduction technologies given the current state of such technologies.

  7. Whether traffic patterns minimize the effect on existing traffic flows.

  8. Whether construction or modification of a new facility is consistent with existing community growth, tourism, recreation, or economic development or with specific projects involving community growth, tourism, recreation, or economic development that have been identified by government action for development or operation within one year through compliance with applicable zoning and setback requirements for populated areas established by this Act.

Setback Distances

New facilities with 50 or more animal units must abide by setback requirements, which range from one-quarter to one mile, depending upon the size of the facility and number of adjacent homes. In addition, compost operations at these facilities must be located at least one-quarter-mile away from the nearest occupied residence unless that residence is on the facility's property. The compost area also must be at least 200 feet from the nearest potable water. If the composting site lies within a 10-year floodplain, suitable action must be taken to protect the site from flooding.


1,000 to 6,999 animal units: From any occupied residence, the setback distance is 1/4 mile + 220 feet for each additional 1,000 animal units over the first 1,000. From a populated area, the setback is 1/2 mile + 440 feet for each additional 1,000 animal units over the first 1,000.


Waste Lagoon Registration and Certification

Producers must register new or modified livestock waste lagoons with the Department of Agriculture before construction begins. Department officials will inspect the lagoon during construction and determine whether modifications are needed. Once construction is complete, producers must certify to the department that the facility meets all state requirements.

Lagoon Design Standards

Lagoon design requirements vary based on the distance from the lagoon bottom to an aquifer. This distance determines whether a liner and groundwater monitoring system are needed. Soil borings and the construction or installation of liners must be conducted under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer, who certifies that the site meets all requirements. Facilities at which monitoring wells are required (those with an aquifer within 20 feet of the lagoon bottom) must test water samples periodically for a variety of contaminants.

Facilities may also be required to construct a secondary berm, filter strip, grass waterway, terrace or a combination of these structures to further protect natural resources.

Single-stage lagoons must be designed to hold more manure than would be produced in 270 days of operation. The lagoons cannot be operated at less than the minimum design volume. In addition, the lagoon effluent supply line must be below the minimum design volume level.

Non-lagoon Design Standards

Design standards also must be followed for the construction of livestock waste handling structures other than lagoons. The standards differ depending upon not only the type of facility, but also the type of waste it will handle. For example, facilities constructed of concrete must meet the strength and load requirements specified in the Midwest Plan Service's Concrete Manure Storage Handbook. In addition, their design must include waterstops and, if the storage areas are uncovered and likely to collect precipitation, two feet of freeboard is required.

Concrete storage structures that handle liquid waste must hold no less than the amount of waste generated by the facility during 150 days of operation at full capacity.

Facilities that store solid or semi-solid livestock waste, as well as holding ponds used for temporary storage of feedlot runoff, must meet the design requirements of the Midwest Plan Service's Livestock Waste Facilities Handbook or similar standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Solid waste stacking structures must hold no less than the amount of waste generated by the facility during six months of operation at full capacity, and prefabricated structures must be able to handle enough waste for their intended use without exceeding the manufacturer's specifications.

Additional requirements from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers must be complied with in environmentally-sensitive areas like 100-year floodplains.

Facility Inspections

The Department inspects proposed new or modified lagoon sites before, during and after construction. In addition, the Department annually inspects new or modified lagoons at facilities serving 1,000 animal units or more for burrow holes, trees or woody vegetation, proper freeboard, erosion, berm settling, bermtop maintenance, leaks and seepage. If problems are found, the Department can require the facility owner or operator to take corrective action. The Department's Livestock Management Facilities Advisory Committee meets biannually to review the inspection process and to recommend improvements.

Above Ground Waste Holding Structures

Livestock waste held in above ground structures must use odor control techniques determined acceptable by scientific peer review and approved by the Department.

Livestock Manager Certification

Livestock facilities with 300 or more animal units must be supervised by a certified livestock manager. Managers of facilities with 300 to 999 animal units can become certified in one of two ways: by attending an approved training course or passing a proficiency exam. An online quiz option is now available. Managers of facilities with 1,000 or more animal units must attend the training course and pass the exam. A listing of current Certified Livestock Managers is available on-line.

Waste Management Plans

Waste management plans are required for facilities with 1,000 or more animal units. Animal units from multiple livestock management facilities under common ownership must be combined when determining whether or not a facility is subject to the waste management plan requirements of the Act. Facilities with 1,000 to 4,999 animal units must certify to the Department that they have a plan and must maintain a copy of the plan at the facility site. 

Plans for facilities with 5,000 or more animal units must be submitted to the Department for review and approval before the facility begins operating. The waste management plan and records of livestock waste disposal must be kept on file for three years. Manure application rates are to be determined by the nitrogen content of the manure and the amount of nitrogen a crop requires based on the five-year average yield. Assistance in the development of plans is available from the University of Illinois Extension at

Reporting of Released Waste

Livestock waste handling facility owners or operators must report any release of livestock waste to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency within 24 hours of discovering it. Planned agronomic application of waste to cropland or pastureland is not subject to this requirement. Releases can be reported via telephone at 800/782-7860. 

Computing Animal Units

You can determine the number of animal units at a facility by multiplying the number of animals by the conversion factor. Similarly, you can determine the number of animals you may keep and still stay within optimal animal unit limits for your operation by dividing the desired number of animal units by the conversion factor listed for the size and species of animal you produce.​ ​​

     Number of Animals

Conversion Factor 50 A.U. 300 A.U. 1,000 A.U. 7,000 A.U.
Swine over 55 lbs. 0.4 125 750 2,500 17,500
Swine under 55 lbs. 0.03 1,667 10,000 33,334 233,334
Dairy 1.4 35 214 714 5,000
Young Dairy Stock 0.6 84 500 1,667 11,667
Cattle 1.0 50 300 1,000 7,000
Sheep, Lambs, Goats 0.1 500 3,000 10,000 70,000
Horses 2.0 25 150 500 3,500
Turkeys 0.02 2,500 15,000 50,000 350,000
Laying Hens or Broilers* 0.01 5,000 30,000 100,000 700,000
Laying Hens or Broilers** 0.03 1,667 10,000 33,334 233,334
Ducks 0.02 2,500 15,000 50,000 350,000

* = At facilities with continuous overflow watering
** = At facilities with liquid manure handling systems

For more information about the Livestock Management Facilities Act and associated rules and regulations, contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture at 217-785-2427 (voice and TDD) or e-mail .