Agricultural Environmental Management

On February 28, 2019, a new regulation called the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM Code) came into effect.  The new AEM Code applies to all agricultural operations in British Columbia, from small hobby farms to large commercial operations.

Read the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management

Requirements

All agricultural operations, regardless of type or size, need to follow a basic level of protection.  Additional measures are required for operations in high-risk areas (e.g., over vulnerable aquifers, phosphorus-affected areas) and operating during high-risk conditions (e.g., during storms, flooding and strong winds).

High-Risk Areas

The regulation identifies high-risk areas as areas:

  • with high precipitation - 600 mm or more of precipitation between October 1 and April 30
  • over vulnerable aquifers - groundwater vulnerable to pollution or contamination from the land, and
  • that are phosphorus-affected - areas of land that drain into surface water bodies that may be affected by high levels of phosphorus.

Your agricultural operation could be in one or more of these areas.

Compliance

Provincial inspectors verify compliance with the AEM Code and other regulations under the Environmental Management Act. An inspector may come on-site to verify compliance with the AEM Code as part of a scheduled inspection of agricultural sites or in response to a complaint. Inspections can be scheduled or unannounced and are typically done during business hours.

To prepare for a site visit, ensure your agricultural operation is meeting the requirements of the AEM Code and keep any required records for at least five years.