Agricultural Environmental Management
The Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM Code) is a Minister’s regulation under the Environmental Management Act that regulates storage and use of manure, other agricultural by-products and materials on agricultural operations. The AEM Code applies to all agricultural operations in British Columbia, from small hobby farms to large commercial operations. An agricultural operation includes raising or keeping livestock, poultry or insects, or growing and harvesting agricultural products on non-residentially-zoned land. It also includes the activities associated with these operations.
All agricultural operations, regardless of type or size, need to follow requirements that achieve a basic level of environmental 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).
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 activities on the land
- 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.