Confined Feeding Operations

Application Process & Time Required to Issue a Decision

The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) sets out the requirements that must be met by an application before it can be approved. The act also establishes the requirements for public notice and the involvement of affected parties. The NRCB’s Approvals policy (Operational Policy 2016-7) provides approval officers with additional guidance.

Approval officers make every effort to issue a decision within 65 working days after the application is determined to be complete. The reality is that while most decisions are issued sooner, some more complex applications can require more time. The number of working days to issue a decision start to be counted as soon as the Part 2 application is determined to be complete, and therefore ready to be processed.

Factors That Affect the Time Required to Issue a Decision

  • The type of application. Authorization applications are for minor changes to facilities. They don’t require public notification. Approval and registration applications involve an increase in livestock. They can be complex, and do require public notification.
  • The status of the operation. If a pre-2002 operation has a municipal permit, its status and permitted livestock numbers and facilities are usually clear. If this information is not on the permit, or the operation doesn’t have a previously-issued permit, the approval officer must make a grandfathering determination. This can be time consuming if the operator doesn’t have clear records for January 1, 2002. Operations that pre-date 2002 should retain livestock and facility records, as well as photos and other documents, to show the working status and livestock capacity of their operation on that date.
  • The completeness of the application. Approval officers can’t deem an application complete until all of the information required by AOPA is provided. Applications that clearly address all technical requirements require less time to process and issue a decision.
  • The application’s consistency with the land use provisions in the municipal development plan. AOPA requires approval officers to deny applications that are not consistent with the land use provisions. If the provisions are not clear, or if an aspect of the proposed operation might not comply with the land use provisions, approval officers must give careful, and often time-consuming, consideration to the question of consistency.
  • Concerns from neighbours or the local municipality. Concerns about an application may require the approval officer to ask for additional information. They can also result in special conditions being attached to a permit, or appeals of the decision if a permit is issued.
  • Requests for extension. Extensions requested by the applicant can add to the time to issue a decision. Operators may request extensions of up to six months, to a maximum combined total of one year. If an extension exceeds six months, the applicant must begin the application process over by resubmitting a Part 1 application. If the requested extensions will exceed a combined total of one year, the approval officer notifies the operator. The operator can then request a shorter extension or decide if they would like to re-submit their Part 1 application.

Steps in the Application Process

Part 1 received

The Part 1 application is the applicant’s notice to the NRCB that they will be submitting an application to expand an existing CFO or construct a new one. When the Part 1 application is received, the approval officer establishes the minimum distance separation (MDS) and provides the municipality with a copy of the application.

Part 2 received

The applicant must submit their completed Part 2 application within six months of submitting the Part 1. They may ask for an extension of up to six months to submit their Part 2. If the application is not submitted within six months, and the applicant did not request and was not granted an extension, the applicant must re-submit their Part 1 application. The MDS will be reset as of the date the NRCB receives the new Part 1.

Deemed complete

The application is deemed complete when all technical requirements are met. If the applicant needs to provide more information before the application can be deemed complete, they may request an extension of up to six months. When the application is deemed complete, the approval officer begins to process the application, and to track the number of working days to decision release. The approval officer:

  • sends a copy of the deemed complete application to the municipality and other referral agencies, as relevant to the application.
  • issues public notice and sends courtesy letters to parties within the directly affected party notification range for approval and registration-sized applications (if the municipality is able to provide their contact information). The parties are given 20 working days to respond to the application by submitting a statement of support or concern. (Public notice is not required for authorizations.)
  • may meet with the applicant to discuss the referral agency responses or statements of concern. The applicant may need to provide more information to respond to the concerns. Some applicants decide to revise their application in response to the concerns raised.
  • reviews the technical details of the application to ensure it meets the requirements of AOPA. The approval officer also conducts environmental risk screenings of the existing and proposed facilities to determine if they could pose a risk to groundwater and surface water, and confirms the application’s consistency with the land use provisions in the municipality’s land use plan. The approval officer then determines what conditions or exemptions may apply.

Decision documents prepared

The approval officer writes the decision summary and permit, and finalizes the technical review document.

  • The decision summary explains how the application meets or doesn’t meet the requirements of the act; examines and responds to issues raised by referral agencies or statements of concern; explains how the application does or doesn’t comply with the land use provisions in the municipal development plan; addresses technical issues and the reasons for exemptions; and explains what conditions will be attached to the permit, if any, and why.
  • The permit states the permitted facilities and livestock species and numbers, the conditions that are attached to the permit, the construction deadline, and the requirement for a post construction inspection. The permit also consolidates any previously-issued permits.
  • The technical review document provides the detailed record of the environmental risk assessments and other technical aspects of the review.

Decision issued

The number of working days to issue a decision are calculated and recorded. The approval officer contacts the applicant to review the permit and any conditions attached to the permit, including the need for a post-construction inspection and timeline for the inspection.


A copy of the decision and permit is provided to the applicant, the municipality and all affected parties. All of the decision documents are posted on the NRCB website. All parties have 20 working days to submit a request for review to the Board of the NRCB if they wish to appeal the approval officer’s decision.



From the time an applicant submits their Part 1 application, and the time their Part 2 application is deemed complete, applicants may request extensions of up to six months, to a total of one year for the application. Extensions of more than six months, or a combined total of more than one year, require the applicant to resubmit their Part 1 application and begin the process over. For more information, please contact an approval officer at your nearest NRCB field office.


Application review process (schematic)
Permits under AOPA: Information for CFO Operators (fact sheet)

24 hour, toll free response line: 1-866-383-6722