Farm Practices

Farmers who follow “normal farm practice” and who are not in contravention of the Public Health Act, Integrated Pest Management Act, Environmental Management Act, their regulations or land use regulations are protected from certain by-law enforcement, court injunctions and nuisance lawsuits.

BCFIRB has two roles in farm practices management through the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act;

 

1.  Complaint Process

Under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (FPPA) BCFIRB may hear complaints from persons aggrieved by odour, noise, dust or other disturbances arising from farm operations.  For example, read the BCFIRB decision Feehan v Ferguson (page 11). 

For example, a person living beside a farm may be disturbed by on-going strong odours arising from a livestock operations manure management and file a complaint with BCFIRB.

For farmers, neighbours, local governments, and the public, BCFIRB is an impartial body that can determine whether a farmer is following “normal farm practice.”

Where it is suitable, BCFIRB promotes early dispute resolution through mediation, facilitation or other processes.  At any time during the complaint process, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, BCFIRB may require the parties to participate in a mandatory facilitated settlement to explore the potential for resolving one or more issues in dispute settlement of all or part of the complaint.

If a settlement is not reached, the parties involved (the neighbour filing the complaint, farmer, knowledgeable persons, industry representatives, witnesses) will be given the opportunity to present their information to a panel of BCFIRB members.

After the hearing process, a BCFIRB panel will either:

  • Dismiss the complaint if the farm operation is determined to be following normal farm practices, or
  • Order the farmer to stop or change their practices if the farm operation is deemed not to be following normal farm practices (see drop down box below).

BCFIRB decisions are final and conclusive but may be appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

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

BCFIRB does not have an enforcement role in regards to decisions made under the FPPA; however there are other avenues through which BCFIRB decisions can be enforced.

 

2.  Reports Role

BCFIRB may, under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (section 11) conduct studies and make recommendations concerning any matter related to farm practices (for example, use of propane cannons).

BCFIRB may report on and make recommendations concerning any matters related to farm practices either on its own initiative, at the request of a municipality/regional district/trust council under the Islands Trust Act, or by direction of the Minister. BCFIRB’s reports and recommendations are non-binding. 

These activities may be initiated by:

  • BCFIRB’s own initiative,
  • The request of a municipality,
  • The request of a regional district,
  • The request of a trust council under the Islands Trust Act, or
  • The request or direction of the Minister of Agriculture.

To date, public reports published by BCFIRB regarding farm practices include:

Presentations by BCFIRB:

Under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (FPPA), "normal farm practice" is a practice conducted by a farm business in a manner consistent with

  1. Proper and accepted customs and standards as established and followed by similar farm businesses under similar circumstances, and
  2. Standards prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

This definition includes a practice that makes use of innovative technology in a manner consistent with proper advanced farm management practices and with any standards prescribed under paragraph (b).

Examples of Normal Farm Practice

Mitchell v Bhullar (PDF; June 10, 2011)

Issue: Does the noise arising from the propane cannon use and management practices on the blueberry farm result from normal farm practices?

After hearing the evidence and arguments presented by the complainant and the farm's response, and reviewing evidence presented by a “knowledgeable person”, previous court decisions, Ministry guidelines, industry standards and site specific circumstances, the BCFIRB panel:

… finds that the use of propane cannons in accordance with the August 2009 Ministry Guidelines for the use of Audible Bird Scare Devices for South Coastal B.C. establishes normal farm practice in the case of the blueberry farm operations.

The panel also finds that while the propane cannon use and management practices on the blueberry farm prior to July 8, 2010 were, in some respects, not in compliance with the revisions to the Ministry guidelines made in August 2009, those practices came into compliance after July 7, 2010 and were in compliance when the complaint was filed. Thus, we conclude the noise arising from the propane cannon use and management practices on the blueberry farm after July 7, 2010 results from normal farm practice. That being the case, we make no order for cessation or modification of the respondents’ propane cannon use and management practices.

Feehan v Ferguson (PDF; August 17, 2010)

Issues:

  1. Is the complainant aggrieved by noise generated from the guinea fowl and all other poultry on the Ferguson operation?
  2. Is the complainant aggrieved by the uncontained birds that migrate onto his property from the Ferguson property?
  3. If so, are the noise and the uncontained poultry from the Ferguson operation in accordance with normal farm practice?

After reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments presented by the complainant and the farm responding, as well as reviewing evidence presented by a “knowledgeable person”, interveners, and site specific circumstances, the BCFIRB panel concluded:

Section 6 of the Act provides that a panel must dismiss a complaint if it is of the opinion that the odour, noise, dust or other disturbance results from a normal farm practice, and must order a farmer to cease the practice that causes the odour, noise, dust or other disturbance if it is not a normal farm practice, or to modify the practice in the manner set out in the order, to be consistent with normal farm practice. Given that we have found the farmer is conducting his business according to normal farm practices, the complaint is dismissed.”

Link to Steps in Complaint Process

The decisions of the BC Farm Industry Review Board are made available on the Internet for the purpose of public information.