The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) is responsible for permitting new and expanding confined feeding operations. Approval officers work out of the NRCB’s four field offices, serving operators within their region. The factors that are considered before an application is approved, and the timeline for arriving at and issuing the decision, are guided by the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) and the NRCB’s Approvals Policy (Operational Policy 2016-7).
Approval officers issue public notice (depending on the type of application and whether the number of livestock will be increased), consult with the local municipality and other referral agencies, and complete a technical review to ensure the application meets the requirements of AOPA. They also conduct an environmental risk screening, to determine if the proposed development could be a risk to groundwater and surface water, and determine whether groundwater monitoring should be required if the application is approved.
In addition to the requirements of the act that all operators must follow, approval officers can include specific conditions on the permit. These conditions must be complied with by the operation.
The applicant and directly affected parties have the right to appeal the approval officer’s decision to the NRCB Board. The Board considers each request received and issues a written decision explaining why it has granted or denied the request. Its decision is based on whether the issues raised were adequately dealt with by the approval officer or inspector, and whether the issues have sufficient merit to justify a review.
Operational Policy 2016-7: Approvals
Types of Permits
An approval is required for applications that involve large numbers of livestock. The threshold numbers are set out in Schedule 2 of the Agricultural Operations, Part 2 Matters Regulation. Public notification is required.
A registration is required for applications where the overall scale of the operation will remain relatively small, but the proposed total number of livestock meets the threshold set out in Schedule 2 of the Agricultural Operations, Part 2 Matters Regulation. Public notification is required.
An authorization is required for construction of manure storage facilities or manure collection areas if there is no increase in livestock numbers. Public notification is not required.
Permits may also include construction deadlines that are identified in consultation with the operator. Operators who want an extension must request the extension before the construction deadline expires. If the request is received after the deadline has expired, the application must be resubmitted and the application review process will start over.
Operators should consult with an NRCB approval officer if they are not sure if their project requires a permit. Constructing a CFO facility without a permit is a serious offence and can lead to severe consequences for the operator. Operators may be required to depopulate or dismantle a facility that was constructed without a permit, and could face prosecution.
Unauthorized Construction under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (fact sheet)
Operational Policy 2012-1: Unauthorized Construction
Application Process & Time Required to Issue a Decision