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Ag Program

Permitting Process

  • Permit Requirements
  • Preliminary Site Inspections
  • Animal Facility Management Plans & Submittal Process
  • Public Hearings/Meetings
  • Local Issues
  • Permit Decisions
  • Modifications That Are Not Expansions
  • Construction & Authorization to Begin Operations

    Permit Requirements

    1. New Facilities

      New commercial animal growing operations are required to comply with the requirements of the Regulation 61-43 through a tiered approach to permitting. The tiered approach has three levels of compliance as follows:

      Tier One: New or expanding facilities with a capacity of 10,000 pounds or less of normal production animal live weight that do not have a manure treatment system must have and implement an animal facility management plan that meets the requirements of the regulations but the animal facility management plan does not have to be submitted to the Department. These facilities do not have to have a permit unless specifically required by the Department.

      Tier two: New or expanding facilities with a capacity of more than 10,000 pounds but less than 30,000 pounds that do not have a manure treatment system must have and implement an animal facility management plan that meets the requirements of the regulations. The plan must be submitted to the Department but a permit is not required unless specifically required by the Department.

      Tier three: Facilities, regardless of size, with a manure treatment system  and facilities with a capacity of 30,000 pounds or more must have and implement an animal facility  management plan that meets the requirements of the regulations. The animal facility management plan must be submitted to the Department for approval before the facility can begin operations.

      In addition, new or expanding animal growing operations that only have animals on range land are exempted from obtaining a permit unless specifically required by the Department. The range area must be of sufficient size so as to allow a cover crop to be established at all times so that natural degradation of the manure occurs. This ensures there will be little if any runoff that can cause surface water problems.

    1. Summary of Permitting Requirements
  • Tier

    Weight

    Animal Facility Management Plan Required & Must Be Implemented Submission of Animal Facility Management Plan Required Permit Required
    One 10,000 lbs or less and no treatment system

    Yes

    No* No*
    Two More than 10,000 lbs and less than 30,000 lbs and no treatment system Yes Yes No*
    Three 30,000 lbs or more with or without a treatment system Yes Yes Yes
    Ranged Not Applicable No* No* No*

    *On a case-by-case basis, any facility may be required by the Department to obtain a permit after a site inspection.

    1. Existing Facilities

      Existing facilities that were permitted prior to the adoption of the regulations are deemed permitted unless they have been closed for five or more years. Deemed permitted facilities do not have to apply for a new permit under the regulations unless they are expanding or adding a manure utilization area, a composter, a stacking shed, etc. However, if a deemed permitted facility has been closed for more than two years but less than five years, the Department must review its permit and modify the operating conditions as necessary before the facility may renew operations. When an existing facility that is deemed permitted adds manure utilization areas, only the requirements relating to manure utilization areas must be met unless the Department specifically determines other portions of the facility need to be brought under the regulations.

      The regulations define expansion for facilities with a lagoon as an increase in the capacity of the lagoon due to construction or the conversion of a lagoon to a storage pond. This means that the number of permitted animals may be increased at an existing facility without it being classified as an expansion as long as the lagoon does not have to be physically expanded or the lagoon is not converted to a storage pond. Increases in the permitted number of animals that are not expansions do not have to follow the permit procedures (public notice, etc.) of the regulations to be approved.

      The regulations define expansion for facilities with “dry” manure handling as an increase in the number of permitted animals. Therefore, all increases in the permitted number of animals for facilities with “dry” manure handling must be permitted according to all the requirements of the regulations.

      Existing animal growing operations that only have animals on range land are exempted from obtaining a permit unless specifically required by the Department. The range land must be of sufficient size so as to allow a cover crop to be established at all times so that natural degradation of the manure occurs. This ensures there will be little if any runoff that can cause surface water problems.
    1. Exempted or Deemed Permitted Facilities May Be Required to Have a Permit Under the Regulations

      On a case-by-case basis, any new facility that is exempted from the permitting requirements of the regulations may be required by the Department to obtain a permit. The Department may also require an existing permitted facility that was deemed permitted to apply for a permit under the regulations. This requirement will generally be imposed on existing facilities that have compliance problems or are in need of updated animal facility management plans. However, before a permit may be required, the Department must visit the facility.
    1. Preliminary Site Inspections

      When a farmer needs to obtain a permit to build a new agricultural facility or expand an existing agricultural facility, the farmer should first contact the appropriate Environmental Quality Control (EQC) Regional Office and request a preliminary site inspection. A Preliminary Site Inspection Request Form must be used for this purpose. The Department conducts preliminary site inspections to determine general site suitability. If a proposed site appears acceptable, then the appropriate technical details can be included in the animal facility management plan so that there is some assurance a permit may be issued. This process also allows problem sites to be “weeded out” in the preliminary part of the permit process and it helps the professional engineers by not having them prepare animal facility management plans for sites that may not be approved. However, preliminary site approvals, while helpful to everyone, are not a commitment by the Department to issue a permit since the precise locations of the structures and specific setbacks are not exactly known at the time of the preliminary site inspection. A final decision is only made after a thorough review of the formal application package.

      At the preliminary site inspection the farmer is given an application packet that details the permit process and specific requirements. For new facilities, Notice of Intent to Construct an Agricultural Facility Forms (NOIs) are given to the farmer for use in notifying nearby land owners of the proposed facility. The farmer may either hand deliver the form to neighbors or mail the form to them. If the NOI form is mailed to nearby property owners, the Department recommends that registered mail be used. This allows the farmer to have proof of the effort to notify the nearby neighbor in case the neighbor does not return the form as requested. The completed NOI forms must be submitted to the Department at the time a formal application is submitted. If a nearby property owner refuses to sign the form or fails to return it to the farmer, the farmer should complete an NOI form giving the neighbor’s name and address and noting on the form that the neighbor refused to sign. A nearby property owner’s consent is not required to obtain a permit as the NOI form is just a part of the public notice process.
    2. Animal Facility  Management Plans and Submittal Process

      After a preliminary site approval is granted, the farmer must have a SC registered professional engineer prepare an animal facility management plan for the proposed facility. The animal facility management plan must comply with Regulation 61-43. The plan details the handling, storage, treatment (if required), and final disposal of the manure, litter, and dead animals generated at the facility. The plan also details the agronomic application of the manure as fertilizer on crop land for growing a viable crop and identifies specific lands to be used. This includes the amount of manure to be applied for different crops and application schedules based on the cropping plan. Soil monitoring, vector abatement, odor abatement, and emergency plans are all part of the animal facility management plan.

      Once the plan has been prepared, it is submitted to the Department for review and final decision. The complete application package consists of two copies of the following items:Original Application Form

      1. Original Application Form
      2. Animal Facility Management Plan
        1. Animal Management System Description
        2. Design Calculations and Construction Details for Treatment/Storage Structures, Including Exact Location and Design Information
        3. Concentration of Waste Constituents
        4. Crop Management Plan
        5. Type of Manure Transport/Spreading Equipment (if applicable)
        6. Spray Irrigation Specifications and Details (if applicable)
        7. Manure Utilization Area Tract Information and Maps
        8. Soils Information (map and description)
        9. Location Maps (showing facility, treatment/storage and all fields)
        10. Copy of Tax Map (identifying all property owners within 1,000 feet of property line with names and addresses)
        11. 100 Year Flood Plain Locations
      3. Ground Water Monitoring Well Program and Details (if applicable)
      4. Odor Abatement Plan
      5. Vector Abatement Plan
      6. Method of Dead Animal Disposal (including an emergency method for abnormal die off)
      7. Soil Monitoring Plan
      8. Plans & Specifications for All Other Treatment or Storage Structures (composter, stacking shed, etc.)
      9. For new facilities, Notice of Intent Forms From All Property Owners Within 1,320 Feet of the footprint of the proposed facility except that large swine facilities with 1,000,000 pounds or more must notify all property owners and persons residing on property within one mile of the footprint of the proposed facility)
      10. Emergency Plan
      11. Contracts for Contract Disposal of Dead Animals or Manure (if applicable)
      12. Site Approval Letter and Map
      13. Setback waivers
      14. Application Fee
      15. Annual Operating Fee

      Once an application package is received by the Department, it is reviewed for administrative completeness. An incomplete application may be returned. 

      For new or expanding large swine facilities, a public notice of receipt of the application is placed in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed facility and a copy of the public notice is sent to the county administrator, owners of downstream water supply intakes that could be affected, persons residing on adjoining property, and any person who asked to be notified. 

      For new small swine facilities and new other animal operations, the initial public notice consists of the NOI forms which the farmer presents to nearby property owners and the posting of four notices by the Department in the area of the proposed facility. There is no newspaper public notice of the application received on these facilities.

      For expansions of existing small swine facilities and existing other animal operations, the initial public notice consists of the posting of four notices by the Department in the area of the existing facility. There is no newspaper public notice of the application received on these facilities.

    1. Public Hearings/Meetings

    Large Swine Facilities

    For large swine facilities with a 1,000,000 pounds or more of capacity, the permit applicant must hold at least one public meeting to present the proposed project to the public. These meetings must be held prior to the formal submission on an application to the Department. A report summarizing the meeting results and opinions derived from the meeting must be submitted to the Department.

    The Department must hold a public hearing for new or expanding large swine facilities with less than 1,000,000 pounds of capacity, if twenty or more comments are received on the proposed facility. Also, the Department must hold a public hearing on large swine facilities with 1,000,000 pounds or more of capacity regardless of whether comments are received. When a hearing will be held, the Department places a notice of public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed facility - usually the same newspaper that was used to notice the receipt of the application. The public notice on the hearing will give at least thirty days notice of the hearing date. The notice will also give the time and place of the hearing. Public hearings are normally held at 7:00 p.m. on a week day in the general location of the facility.  

    Click here for a Brochure on Ag Public Hearings.

    Small Swine and Other Animal Facilities

    For both new or expanding small swine facilities and new or expanding other animal facilities, if twenty or more comments are received on the proposed facility, the Department will hold a public meeting. If a public meeting will be held, the Department will send an invitation to everyone who commented. The meeting invitation will give the date, time, and place of the meeting. Public meetings are normally held at 3:00 p.m. on a week day in the general location of the facility.

    Click here for a Brochure on Ag Public Meetings.

    1. Local Issues

      Some people think the Department is involved in land use planning and zoning. However, these issues are clearly the sole responsibility of local governments and the Department is not involved in land use planning or zoning decisions made by local governments. This includes a local government’s decision not to have local zoning or land use plans. Therefore, these issues are not considerations in the Department’s agricultural program. Site selection is another activity which some people think is the responsibility of the Department. However, permit applicants, not the Department, select their proposed sites. Yet siting criteria is a part of the regulations and any proposed facility must meet the siting criteria if the Department is to favorably consider an application. Some other issues that are concerns of the public but are not the Department’s responsibilities are: property values, increased vehicular traffic on roads, and best uses of property. Public concerns on all these issues should be directed to the appropriate local government officials rather than to the Department. Only those issues that relate to environmental or public health issues can be considered by the Department in the decision making process.
    1. Permit Decisions

      After the Department completes its technical review of the application and conducts the public hearing or meeting (if required), a final decision on the application will be made. All permit decisions on new or expanding facilities are published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the facility. A copy of the public notice of the decision is sent to all persons who provided comments or attended the hearing or meeting (if held). On new facilities, if the final decision is to issue the permit, the first year’s annual operating fee must be paid with no prorating of the fee before the permit can be issued. If an appeal of the permit results in the overturning of the decision to issue the permit such that the permit is withdrawn, the Department will refund the annual operating fee.

      Permits for swine facilities are issued for seven years while permits for other animal facilities have no expiration date. An issued permit will contain both an issue and effective date. The effective date will be at least thirty days past the issue date.

      Click Here for a Flow Chart of the Permit Process (PDF-8KB)

    1. Modifications That Are Not Expansions

      Modifications on existing facilities that are not expansions (as defined by the regulations) do not follow the above procedures. These types of modifications include but are not limited to composter or stacking shed additions, an increase in the number of animals at facilities with lagoons that does not result in the physical expansion (construction required) of a lagoon and do not convert the lagoon to a storage pond, addition of manure utilization areas, and replacement of facilities in kind. A preliminary site inspection is not necessary and there are no public notices associated with applications for these modifications. Also, there are no application fees associated with these applications. For most modifications, the farmer will have a consulting engineer prepare an amendment to the animal facility management plan. The modified animal facility management plan or amendment is then submitted to the Department. Only those items on the complete application list that are related to the proposed modification need to be submitted to the Department.
    1. Construction and Authorization to Begin Operations

      Once a permit is effective with no appeals pending, the new facility, expansion, or modification may be built. When construction has been completed, the preparer of the animal facility management plan must certify that the facility has been built according to the approved plan. Once the certification is received, the farmer is responsible for contacting the Department to obtain authorization to begin operations. Upon receipt of the certification, the EQC Regional Office may conduct a final inspection on the facility. If an inspection is not conducted, a letter authorizing the farmer to begin operations is written to the farmer based on the certification. If a final inspection is conducted and everything is satisfactory, a letter authorizing the farmer to begin operations is written to the farmer. If any problems are noted during a final inspection, they must be corrected before the letter authorizing operations can be granted. If operations are started before the authorization is granted, the owner of the facility is subject to enforcement action which may include fines.


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