Confined Feeding Operations

Frequently Asked Questions

Register a Complaint

To register a complaint, please call the 24 hour toll free response line 1-866-383-6722 or the nearest field office of the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) during regular business hours. 

Persons who register a complaint will receive a call back within one business day. The NRCB inspector will respond to or investigate the complaint within five business days. Issues that may cause a risk to the environment will be investigated within 24 hours. The inspector will determine the most efficient and appropriate response on a case by case basis.
  The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) does not disclose the identity of complainants. The identity of a complainant is protected by section 27(2) of the Board Administrative Procedures Regulation, Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA), which states that the board shall not release the identity of a person who submits a complaint. 
  No fee is required to file a complaint.
How to Find Out How a Complaint Was Resolved
  If the complainant wishes to receive a call back and provides their contact information, the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) inspector who responds to the complaint will contact the complainant to advise what actions were taken to address the concern. 
Common Complaints

The majority of complaints are about odour, non-compliance with the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) or specific permit conditions, water quality and nuisance issues such as dust or flies. On average, the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) responds to approximately 250 complaints each year. 

Dead Animals
Disposal of dead animals is regulated by Agriculture and Forestry under the Animal Health Act. The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) refers all complaints about the disposal of dead animals to Agriculture and Forestry (Regulatory Assurance division) for follow-up. 

Farmers’ Advocate
If the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) determines that issues brought to its attention are acceptable agricultural practice (as discussed under Part 1 of the Agricultural Operation Practices Act), complaints may be referred to the Farmers’ Advocate Office, Agriculture and Forestry for review. 

Livestock in water bodies
The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) regulates confined feeding operations and manure management. It does not give the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) authority for grazing livestock and does not address the proximity of grazing cattle to common bodies of water. However, the act does give the NRCB authority to address seasonal feeding and bedding sites that pose a risk to common bodies of water. Board inspectors will respond to issues of manure posing a risk to a water body, and will consult with Environment and Parks, municipal irrigation district authorities and other regulators as required. 

Manure handling
Manure handling complaints include concerns about stockpiling and spreading. Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) inspectors have jurisdiction for these issues under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA). For more information, please see the frequently asked questions Manure Storage & Facilities and Manure Application & Setbacks.

Inappropriate disturbance
Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) inspectors respond to inappropriate disturbance complaints about dust and flies, and can require an operator to take steps to control these issues. 

Non-compliance with AOPA or a specific permit condition
Complaints about non-compliance with the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) or a specific permit condition will be investigated or responded to within five business days. If a call back is requested the complainant will be contacted within one business day of registering the complaint. Confirmed and repeated non-compliance may be responded to by enforcement action. 

Dust and flies are common nuisance complaints. Board inspectors may require an operator to take steps to control these nuisance issues. 

Odour from manure spreading or liquid storage lagoons is a common complaint. Permit conditions may require an operator to take specific actions to mitigate odour. For example, depending on soil conditions, an operator may be required to incorporate manure within a specific number of hours or to use direct injection when spreading manure. Actions may also need to be taken to minimize odours from liquid manure storage facilities. However, some degree of odour is normal and is considered accepted agricultural practice. 

Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) inspectors use an odour protocol to determine whether an odour exceeds the level that would be considered accepted agricultural practice. Complainants may be asked to track the intensity and duration of the odour incidents. Tracking helps the inspector determine potential causes of the odour and what steps might be appropriate to take to mitigate it. 

The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) requires operations constructed after January 1, 2002 to have sufficient available space for nine-months of manure storage. Operators must ensure that manure that has accumulated over the summer months is spread before the onset of winter. Many operators practice good neighbour relations by advising neighbours in advance of spreading. 

Manure transport and road use 
The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) does not have jurisdiction over road use. Jurisdiction for road use depends on whether the road is classified as a municipal or provincial road. Operators who truck manure are responsible for obtaining any permits necessary to use these roads and for complying with all applicable road regulations. The NRCB logs and responds to complaints regarding road use and will forward the complaint to the appropriate authority. 

Water quality 
The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) and regulations require confined feeding operations to prevent manure-contaminated water from leaving the property or entering a common body of water. If an issue is identified, Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) inspectors consult as required with provincial and federal regulators responsible for water quality. Inspectors may also initiate enforcement action under AOPA if required. Environment and Parks has authority for water quality under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Environment Canada is responsible for the protection of fish and fish habitat. 

Unauthorized construction 
Operators require a permit under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) to construct manure collection or storage facilities, or to increase their animal numbers. Operators who are planning to construct a new facility, expand an existing facility or increase their livestock should contact the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) or an Agriculture and Forestry confined feeding operation extension specialist, before beginning construction, to confirm whether they need a permit. 

The potential consequences for constructing without a permit can be quite severe. Penalties can include being required to stop construction, to remove the animals from the facility, or to stop using the facility to store manure or hold livestock. In rare circumstances, operators may even be required to remove the facility. 

If the NRCB receives a complaint about unauthorized construction, the inspector will contact the operator, and will conduct a site inspection if the inspector is not familiar with the site. Compliance and enforcement typically start with education and voluntary compliance. If necessary, verbal directives, written compliance directives, and enforcement or emergency orders will be issued. In extreme cases, court action can be taken.
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24 hour, toll free response line: 1-866-383-6722