In spite of NRCB efforts to address, unauthorized construction of confined feeding operations continues

Posted on June 25, 2020 |

In spite of three years of significant effort by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) and industry organizations to inform operators of confined feeding operations (CFOs) and caution them about unauthorized construction, the NRCB continues to see increased cases of unauthorized construction of pens, barns, catch basins, and earthen manure storage facilities at a number of CFOs.

The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) prohibits construction of a CFO, a manure storage facility or a manure collection area, before required permits are issued. Unauthorized construction is a serious offence and can result in penalties that range from enforcement orders to prosecution. In addition, operators may incur additional costs in addressing unauthorized construction issues. Taking a regulatory shortcut may cost you more money in the end.

Before starting any construction at a CFO, manure storage facility, or a manure collection area, consult with an approval officer or inspector at the nearest NRCB office to determine whether the work requires an AOPA permit. You can ask an approval officer to visit your operation to discuss your plans and confirm whether you need a permit.

Required permits must be in place before beginning any construction. If you have questions about what constitutes construction, contact your nearest NRCB office.

You can also self-report if you realize that work you have started may need a permit. It is better to self-report and resolve the situation with the NRCB, than to continue the unauthorized construction and have to deal with potential severe enforcement consequences and increased costs down the road.


The NRCB may take enforcement action in response to unauthorized construction. Enforcement actions could include:

  • requiring you to dismantle or depopulate the facility, at your own expense
  • issuing you a compliance directive or an enforcement order (these are public documents that are posted on the NRCB website)
  • prosecution, especially if you knew that you needed a permit, or do not cooperate with the inspector.

The NRCB’s Unauthorized Construction under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act fact sheet is available on the website, at and at the link above. For more information, please contact an approval officer or an inspector at the NRCB office nearest you.

NRCB field offices:

Morinville       780-939-1212
Red Deer        403-340-5241
Lethbridge     403-381-5166