AOPA - Frequently Asked Questions

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 Here are a few frequently asked questions relating to the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA). If you don't see an answer for your question, our Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) Agri-Environmental Extension Specialists would be glad to assist you.
What is AOPA?

“The Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) is provincial legislation which sets manure management standards for all agricultural operations in Alberta who handle manure. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that the province’s livestock industry can grow to meet the opportunity presented by local and world markets in an environmentally sustainable manner. Part 1 of the Act provides what’s commonly referred to as “right to farm” legislation by defining how nuisance issues such as odour, dust, noise and smoke resulting from agricultural activities are addressed. Part 2 of the Act sets the permitting process for the construction or expansion of confined feeding operations, the compliance process, and offences related to, and penalties for contravening, the Act.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) is responsible for developing and updating AOPA. AF staff extends information regarding the Act and its associated regulations as well as extension information, providing manure management practices and beneficial management practices (BMPs).

The Farmers' Advocate Office (FAO) is responsible for administering nuisance regulations. The FAO assists in looking for solutions when disputes arise between the agricultural industry and neighbours over nuisance issues.

The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) is responsible for the permitting of CFOs and is also responsible for addressing complaints regarding manure management on agricultural operations in Alberta.

Who Does AOPA Apply To?

AOPA regulations apply to anyone or any operation who produces, transports, or receives and applies livestock manure and manure compost including:
  • crop producers using manure as fertilizer
  • custom manure applicators
  • livestock producers
  • existing, expanding or new confined feeding operations
.What Is a CFO?

A Confined Feeding Operation (CFO) is defined as "fenced or enclosed land or buildings where livestock are confined for the purpose of growing, sustaining, finishing or breeding by means other than grazing, and any other building or structure directly related to that purpose". CFOs do not include residences, grazing livestock operations, livestock seasonal feeding and bedding sites, equestrian stables, auction markets, race tracks or exhibition grounds (Act, Section 1).

Do I Need a Permit?

Under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA), the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) issues three kinds of permits for building or expanding a Confined Feeding Operation (CFO), manure storage facility or manure collection area. The type of permit depends on the nature of the activity, the number of animals, and animal species (these animal numbers are outlined in the Agricultural Operations, Part 2 Matters Regulation, Schedule 2, Table 1).
  • Registrations are permits for smaller CFOs.
  • Approvals are permits for larger CFOs.
  • Authorizations are permits for construction of manure storage facilities or manure collection areas.
Before construction is started, confirm that your facility can meet the technical requirements of the act and is consistent with the municipal land use plan. As the owner or operator of your CFO, you are legally responsible for obtaining all required permits before beginning construction. If you are concerned that an activity you have started may be considered construction, contact the NRCB right away. For operations not listed in the legislation or CFOs with animal numbers that fall below the registration size threshold, contact your municipality.

What If My Operation Existed Prior to January 1, 2002?

All CFOs, manure storage facilities and manure collection areas that existed prior to January 1, 2002 are deemed to have a permit under AOPA. The NRCB has sole responsibility for enforcing conditions on such permits. The NRCB also has the authority to amend the terms and conditions of permits issued for CFOs and manure storage facilities.

To find a permit for an operation existing since 2002, please click here.

Do I Need a Permit If I Buy an Existing CFO?

A permit (deemed or issued by the NRCB) is for the lifetime of the facility and stays with the land, regardless of ownership. A new owner must notify the NRCB of the change in ownership (Act, Section 28).

Do I Have to Upgrade my Existing Facilities If I'm Adding New Facilities?

Existing CFOs do not have to upgrade facilities to meet AOPA standards when expanding their operation unless the facility is posing a risk to the environment or an inappropriate disturbance, as determined by the NRCB. The NRCB can investigate any risk to the environment or inappropriate disturbance, enforce terms and conditions in existing development permits, or require actions to be taken to mitigate the risk or inappropriate disturbance.

An approval or registration is required by an existing CFO if expansion is to take place. The expansion refers to any construction that is completed to accommodate an increase in livestock numbers or amount of manure being collected and stored on site. Operators cannot begin construction until a permit is obtained (Act, Section 13). Those who hold a permit must comply with its terms and conditions.

When an existing CFO expands, only the new or expanded portions of the facility that collect or store manure must meet the standards in the regulations. The rest of the existing operation will be evaluated with respect to environmental risk. If there is a risk to the environment, the operator will be required to address the risk.

Is There Funding Available For My Manure Management Project?

The Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change – Producer program opened April 3, 2018. This program will help producers address risks to ground and surface water quality related to manure as well as other BMPs which improve the farm’s sustainability.

For manure and livestock facilities management projects, please view category B under the funding list. For more details, funding list and application forms, click here. To stay current on program changes and news on future environmental programming, click here.

If I Have a Complaint, Who Do I Talk To?

The Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) is responsible for administering Part 1 Nuisance of the Act and assists in looking for solutions when disputes arise between the agricultural industry and neighbours over nuisance issues. An appointed panel can review complaints related to nuisances such as agricultural odour, dust, noise, and smoke. Affected parties should contact the Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) for more information through the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).

Complaints or concerns regarding manure handling and management can be made by phoning the Natural Resources Conservation Board's (NRCB) toll-free Response Line at 1-866-383-6722. The call centre will forward the complaint to an NRCB Inspector for follow-up. The inspector will investigate the complaint and determine whether the operation is in compliance with the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA), its regulations and permit conditions.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Deanne Madsen.
This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
This information published to the web on September 10, 2014.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 1, 2018.