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, that are rearing and keeping livestock or poultry, or growing and harvesting agricultural products, for: 

  • consumption or use by humans, including as food, fibre or fuel,
  • use as animal feed,
  • use as breeding stock or to produce seedlings or flowers,
  • use in landscaping or for ornamental purposes, in the case of plants, or
  • work or recreational purposes, in the case of horses.

Read the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management


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., areas with high rainfall, over vulnerable aquifers, phosphorus-affected areas) and operating during high-risk conditions (e.g., during storm events, 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.
  • Find out if your agricultural operation is in a high-risk area


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.