Common complaints include concerns about odour, manure application, non-compliance with AOPA or a permit condition, and water quality.
If the NRCB determines that issues brought to its attention are acceptable agricultural practice (as discussed under Part 1 of the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA)), complainants may be referred to the Farmers’ Advocate Office of Agriculture and Irrigation for review.
The majority of complaints are about odour from manure spreading or liquid storage lagoons.
An operation's permit conditions may require certain actions to mitigate odour. For example, an operator may be required to incorporate manure within a specified number of hours or to use direct injection. 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.
When an odour complaint is received, NRCB inspectors must determine the source of the odour, whether the odour is the result of non-compliance, and whether the odour is creating an inappropriate disturbance or would be considered normal for an agricultural operation.
Inspectors use an odour protocol to determine whether an odour exceeds the level that would be considered an inappropriate disturbance. Complainants may be asked to track the time, intensity, and duration of the odour to help the inspector assess the cause and determine the appropriate response.
Manure handling complaints include concerns about stockpiling and spreading. NRCB inspectors have jurisdiction for these issues under AOPA. For more information, please see the frequently asked questions Manure Storage & Facilities and Manure Application & Setbacks.
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.
Dust, Flies, & Other Inappropriate Disturbance
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 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, dependent on work load. Confirmed and repeated non-compliance may be responded to by enforcement action.
AOPA and its 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, NRCB inspectors consult as required with provincial and federal regulators responsible for water quality. Inspectors may also initiate enforcement action under AOPA. Environment and Protected Areas has authority for water quality under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Environment Canada is responsible for the protection of fish and fish habitat.
Operators require an AOPA permit to construct manure collection or storage facilities, or to increase their livestock numbers. Operators who are planning to construct a new facility, expand an existing facility or increase their livestock should contact the NRCB 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 livestock 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.