N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
EMS and Pork Production Tools

Environmental Management Systems for Pork Producers

4.3.1 Environmental Aspects

The next step of building the EMS is to identify and prioritize the activities and the corresponding aspects of the farm that have or can have significant impacts on the environment. The end result of following this process will be a prioritization of the aspects in order of greatest impact or potential impact.

Environmental Aspect: Elements of a farm’s activities that can interact with the environment.
Environmental Impact: Any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting from the farm’s activities.

This element is frequently one of the most confusing and time consuming processes in EMS development. 

The pilot farm producers began to see the value of this process as they completed this task. 

"We identified our aspects and impacts by discussing the systems of each of the hog houses and the other related systems such as the lagoon, irrigation, generator, etc. and looked at what kind of impact each could have to people, animals or the environment.  The most confusing part of the aspects and impacts was deciding on which were significant.  There was nothing really all that hard about it.  This process was all new to be, but step by step it wasn't so over whelming."  Rodney Purser, White Rock Farms 


To assist producers in completing this element an interactive Aspect/Impact Management (AIM) Tool has been developed. This program allows you to choose from various lists and takes you step-by-step through identifying all the activities on your farm that have or can have an impact on the environment. The tool:

  • guides you through the selection of activities, aspects and related impacts of those activities, 

  • helps you identify criteria to select significant impacts, 

  • enables you to score the impacts based on the criteria you have selected, and 

  • ranks all of the impacts to help you identify the significant impacts. 

If you choose to use this tool to assist you in identifying the significant impacts of your farm activities please visit (insert Web address for AIM tool here). Once you have completed this task return to Step 4 (hyperlink to Step 4) of this guidance.

If you choose not to use the AIM tool continue following this guidance to identify your significant impacts. 

Step 1

  • List all farm activities within the scope of the EMS that could have an environmental impact. Include day-to-day operations, infrequent operations such as lagoon clean-out, and activities related to accidents or emergencies. (examples: lagoon waste management, animal care/clean-up). Consider listing activities over a period of time and ask associated employees to do the same. Combine these lists to get an overall view of farm activities.

  • For each activity, list the corresponding environmental aspects and impacts. How does this activity interact with the environment and what change to the environment results from this activity? (Example: activity = lagoon waste management; a potential aspect of that activity would be lagoon flooding and the corresponding impact to the environment would be water pollution). These tools may help you in this process.

Step 2

  • Once all the farm's activities and related aspects and impacts have been identified, the next step is to develop the criteria you will use to determine the significance of each impact. This step allows you to identify - specifically for your farm - the aspects of your farm's operations that have or can have significant impacts on the environment. This process is important because the aspects and impacts identified as significant will be used in the development of other elements of the EMS including:  setting objectives and targets; developing operational procedures; training employees; and establishing monitoring and measuring programs. 

  • Legal requirements, severity of impact, concerns of interested parties, and likelihood of occurrence are suggested criteria. You may include these and others as best fits your farms situation.

  • Once you have chosen the criteria you should decide how to rank (or score) them. You can do this by assigning a numerical range to the criteria or by simply assigning a rating of high, medium or low. 

    For example: you might identify legal requirements as one of the criteria and assign a numerical score of 1-3 for ranking the impact. Each score would represent the following:

3 = regulated – could result in a fine or Notice of Violation (NOV)
2 = regulated – could result in Notice of Deficiency (NOD) or other violation
1 = not regulated

If the impact from an identified aspect is regulated and could result in a fine or Notice of Violation, then you would assign a score of 3 to that impact. If the impact is not regulated you would assign a score of 1 to that impact. A simple ranking system of 1-3 works well but choose what works best for you. Several examples from the pilot farms are included. 

See the following link for examples of significant ranking criteria.