Ministry of Agriculture

Resolving Concerns and Complaints

The Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (FPPA) was enacted to protect a farmer's right to farm in BC. Central to the Act are improved means to resolve concerns and complaints about farm practices associated with dust, odour, noise or other disturbances

  The process is intended to resolve concerns in order to:
Rural/ urban edge
  • let farmers farm;

  • keep people out of court;

  • deal fairly with people's concerns and complaints; and

  • deal with poor farm practices when they might occur.

A person with a concern or complaint about farm practices has a choice of engaging an informal or formal process to address their issue.

Informal Process

Local Government

As in the past, people with a concern about farm practices often turn to their local government for information and advice. Steps have been taken to provide improved information to local governments about farm practices, including a farm practices guide.
 

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

Ministry staff throughout the province represent an important informal avenue that people can turn to when they have a concern about a farm practice. Ministry staff have been dealing with these types of inquiries for many years, but the FPPA provides additional focus to these efforts.

Peer Advisors

In some areas of the province, peer advisors drawn from the farm sector investigate nuisance concerns when requested to do so. An example of the peer advisory system is the BC Blueberry Council providing a Grower Liaison Officer in the Lower Mainland to address noise complaints regarding audible bird scare devices.
 

Rural/ urban edgeInformal approaches to handling concerns may not always satisfactorily resolve the situation. At any time in the process, a person may direct their complaint to the Farm Industry Review Board.
 

Formal Process

Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB)

The Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB) is an independent body responsible for the general supervision of BC's commodity marketing boards and commissions.  FIRB is also responsible for hearing appeals from decisions of those boards and commissions. Under the mandate of the FPPA, the Board acts as a quasi-judicial body empowered to hear complaints from persons that feel aggrieved by odour, noise, dust or other disturbances from a farm.

Complaints are dealt with in a fair and equitable manner and the Board provides a cost-effective alternative (for all parties) to the court system. The Board may also study and report on farm practices.

For farmers, local governments, and the public, the FIRB is an impartial body that can determine whether a farmer follows normal farm practices.  Where possible, the FIRB uses various forms of alternative dispute resolution processes to resolve issues by agreement without the need for formal panel hearings. If these processes are not used or are unsuccessful, a hearing is convened. After hearing a complaint, the FIRB must (1) dismiss the complaint if the farm operation is determined to be following normal farm practices; or (2) order the farm to cease or modify its practices.

The FIRB's farm practices decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, but only on a question of law or jurisdiction.

The FIRB is accountable to the provincial government for its administrative operations, but is independent of government in its decision-making and farm practices functions. As an independent tribunal, the Board ensures that the public interest is served and protected.

Contact Farm Industry Review Board