Step 4: The Farm Practice Complaint Decision

After hearing the evidence and arguments from the person who filed the complaint and farmer, a panel of BCFIRB members will make a decision as to whether the complainant is aggrieved and whether the farm practices are normal farm practices.

In making its decision, the panel may consider:

  • The balance between farmers and their neighbours as has been established by the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act itself. Where a farmer is carrying out a practice in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards as established by similar farm businesses under similar circumstances, the complaint must be dismissed.
  • Farm operations do not automatically gain protection by showing that they follow some abstract definition of industry standards. BCFIRB’s task is not to inquire simply into whether the farm practice is “proper” in the abstract, but also whether it is consistent with proper and accepted customs as established and followed by similar farm businesses under similar circumstances. The inquiry is both fact and site-specific. The same practice may qualify as a normal farm practice in one situation, but not in another where the circumstances are different.
  • Depending on the practice subject to the complaint, many relevant factors may be considered in determining normal farm practice, including proximity of the neighbours, use of land and the degree of disturbance. It may also be relevant whether the farm business/farm operation predates the neighbours.

These considerations arise from previous BCFIRB decisions and  Pyke v. TRI GRO Enterprises Ltd. (Ontario Court of Appeal) (PDF)

In their decision, the BCFIRB panel will decide to

  • Dismiss the complaint if the panel is of the opinion that the disturbance results from a normal farm practice,
  • Order the farmer to modify (change) a practice to be consistent with normal farm practice, or
  • Order the farmer to cease (stop) a practice that is not a normal farm practice.

The BCFIRB panel will provide its decision in writing. The decision will include a statement of the complaint, findings based on the evidence, the positions of the parties and the panel's findings whether the complainant is aggrieved, normal farm practices and any necessary orders (directions).

The decision is issued to all parties and interveners and will be posted on BCFIRB’s web site.

BCFIRB’s decisions only apply to the complaint heard.

BCFIRB complaint decisions can only be appealed on a question of law or jurisdiction, within 60 days of the decision, to the B.C. Supreme Court.

BCFIRB processes and procedures can be reviewed by the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson, providing an additional layer of accountability.

As of March 31, 2007, a certified copy of a BCFIRB order (decision) can be filed with the B.C. Supreme Court to enforce the order.