Message from the Chair
I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. The report focuses on the Board’s achievements for the year. On behalf of the members of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, I wish to thank the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for the services provided to the Board according to the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Board secretariat support is provided by the Business Services Branch within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
On behalf of the Board members, we look forward to continuing to serve the agriculture and food sectors, as well as rural communities, throughout Ontario.
Glenn C. Walker, Chair
Normal Farm Practices Protection Board
The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (the “NFPPB” or the “Board”) is established under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 1 (the “Act”) to rule on issues pertaining to farm practices. In general terms, a farmer is not liable in nuisance to any person for a disturbance resulting from an agricultural operation carried on as a normal farm practice. Disturbances covered are those arising from odour, dust, flies, light, smoke, noise, and vibration. No municipal by-law applies to restrict a normal farm practice carried on as part of an agricultural operation.
The Act defines a “normal farm practice” as a practice that:
- is conducted in a manner consistent with proper and acceptable customs and standards as established and followed by similar agricultural operations under similar circumstances, or
- makes use of innovative technology in a manner consistent with proper advanced farm management practices.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) agricultural engineers or environmental specialists attempt conflict resolution on each complaint made to the Board respecting an agricultural operation. This ministry-led conflict resolution process successfully resolved 88 percent of all complaints in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
For unresolved cases, parties may submit an application for a hearing before the Board. The Board conducts a pre-hearing/settlement conference with the parties. The pre-hearing conference identifies and narrows issues and determines hearing logistics. The settlement conference is a further attempt at conflict resolution. If the settlement conference is unsuccessful, the Board conducts a hearing to determine, among other things, whether the farm practice involved is a "normal farm practice."
Board proceedings are subject to the Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act (SPPA). Board hearings are less formal than court proceedings but still follow the principles of natural justice. Hearings are managed in such a way that most complainants or respondents may present their case without representation by legal counsel if they so choose. This approach promotes greater access to the services of the Board for all.
The Board is governed by the Agencies and Appointments Directive (AAD), the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive, and other applicable directives from Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet. Board members are made aware of the AAD and its requirements. All accountability and governance documents required for the Board have been published on the Board’s web page in accordance with the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (ATAGAA). Reimbursements of Board members’ expenses were all within the guidelines of the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive.
The Board values:
- Timely, evidence-based, impartial, and independent decision making with clearly reasoned and expressed decisions;
- Respect and consideration;
- Fairness and accessibility; and
- Adherence to customer service and adjudicative process principles.
MANDATE and MISSION STATEMENT
The mandate of the Board is established by the Act. Section 3 establishes the Board. It also establishes the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ power to appoint the chair, vice-chairs and members.
Subsection 4 (2) of the Act provides that the Board has the power to:
- inquire into and to resolve a dispute respecting an agricultural operation and to determine what constitutes a normal farm practice; and
- make the necessary inquiries and orders to ensure compliance with its decisions.
The Board’s mission statement is to provide a fair hearing and decision-making process to all parties involved in disputes regarding normal farm practices.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT FARM PRACTICES
The operations of the Board are governed by the Act, the SPPA and its own Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Rules require that complaints about farm practices attempt the conflict resolution process conducted by Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ agricultural engineers and environmental specialists. If this process is not successful, a party can bring an application before the Board.
The type of complaints reviewed are either disturbance complaints or municipal by-law complaints. Through the conflict resolution process, OMAFRA advises that ministry staff were able to resolve (i.e. conflict resolution successful or on-going) 88 per cent (79 out of 90) of nuisance and by-law complaints received in 2021-22, thereby avoiding 79 potential Board hearings.
11 applications received in the 2019-20 fiscal year were carried over into the 2021-22 fiscal year. 11 applications received in 2020-21 fiscal year were also carried over to the 2021-22 fiscal year. In 2021-22, the Board received 11 new applications. Of the total 33 case files, eight were withdrawn. The Board issued 14 decisions and has 16 applications pending.
|Continued||Received Current Year||Withdrawn / Invalid||Decisions||Continuing into next fiscal year|
* The total number of decisions may be higher than the total number of cases and/or may skew total numbers because more than one type of decision may be delivered on the same file (e.g. motion(s) decision(s), interim decision(s), final decision, or costs decision).
The Board conducts a pre-hearing/settlement conference with the parties for each application received. The pre-hearing conference identifies and narrows issues and determines hearing logistics. The settlement conference is a further attempt at mutual dispute resolution.
By-Law complaints received in 2021-22 primarily focused upon greenhouse lighting abatement in the Municipality of Leamington.
Disturbance complaints received in 2021-22 primarily focused upon noise, odour, and flies from agricultural operations.
The ATAGAA came into force (in part) on April 7, 2010. The purpose of the ATAGAA is to ensure that adjudicative tribunals are accountable, transparent, and efficient in their operations by having in place governance accountability documents (which include a Memorandum of Understanding, Business Plan, and Annual Report) and public accountability documents (which include a Mandate and Mission Statement, Consultation Policy, Service Standard Policy, Ethics Plan and Member Accountability Framework) by April 1, 2012. The Board met and continues to meet those requirements.
In accordance with ATAGAA, the Board reviewed the public accountability documents in November of 2016 to determine whether any amendments were required. The Board was satisfied with the documents as written.
PERFORMANCE MEASURES and RESULTS
The Board measures the performance of its programs in three areas:
- Timeliness of response to request for hearing: Number of days between receipt of a hearing application and response to applicant on whether the application is set for a hearing.
On receipt of a complete application for a hearing, the Board will issue a decision on whether the case is accepted for hearing within 20 calendar days. Time begins when the Board receives a complete application; it does not include time taken for the applicant to provide missing information.
This timeline goal is set based on what is a reasonable amount of time for staff and the Chair to review and application, assign, and confirm a hearing panel’s availability, based on workload and the number of staff working on Board files.
Results: The Board received 11 applications for a hearing during the 2021-22 fiscal year and responded within 20 calendar days of receipt of the application, whether the application was accepted or denied, 100 per cent of the time.
2. Timeliness of Board decisions: Following completion of a hearing, the Board endeavors to release its written decision, with reasons, to the parties according to the following schedule:
- Hearings lasting less than five days: decision released within 60 business days
- Hearings lasting five to 20 days: decision released within 90 business days
- Hearings lasting more than 20 days: decision released within 120 business days.
This is a measure of the length of time that the parties must wait for the Board’s decision after their hearing has ended. It is calculated by counting the number of business days between the completion of the hearing and the release of the decision.
These timeline goals are set based, in part, on the volume of evidence presented during a 5-day hearing versus a 20-day or lengthier hearing.
Results: During the 2021-22 fiscal year, the Board was able to meet its decision release performance standards 100 per cent of the time.
3. Quality of Service: The Board’s goal is fewer than three complaints about the quality of service received per fiscal year.
The measure is the incidence of complaints from parties about any aspect of the quality of the provision of the Board’s service.
Results: The Board did not receive any complaints about any aspect of the quality of the Board’s service during the 2021-22 fiscal year.
The Board’s secretariat support is funded by the ministry. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place between the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chair of the Board. The MOU sets out the accountability relationships between the Board, OMAFRA and the Minister to enable the Board to operate “at arm’s length” from OMAFRA. The “arm’s length” relationship ensures that the Board can operate independently and that OMAFRA does not have any undue influence on the decisions of the Board regarding cases that come before it.
The Board operates under a budget from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and as such does not have its own audited financial statements. The budget is used to deliver the hearing services and other business priorities of the Board across the province. The budget includes money for members and staff for agency operating expenses related to transportation, communication, services, supplies and equipment.
The Board was allotted a total budget of $91,800 for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Of that amount, $12,600 was dedicated to transportation and communications related expenses. The per diems for members and other costs related to service provision were allotted $78,700. Supplies and equipment were allotted $500.
The actual total amount spent on operating expenses was $80,177. The Board underspent its allotted budget by 13 per cent. The total spending for Board operating expenses in the category of transportation and communications was $114 and services $80,063. Nothing was spent on supplies or equipment.
When compared to the previous fiscal years, spending in 2021-22 was similar in the categories on supplies and equipment, with no funds being spent. In 2021-22, the Board’s underspending of its allotted budget by 13 per cent can largely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent abrupt cessation of in-person hearings. While services expenses remained fairly consistent at $80,063 due to virtual hearings being implemented, the total spending for Board operating expenses in the category of transportation and communications was only $114.
|19-20 ($) Actual||18-19 ($)
|Transportation & Communications||12,600||114||
|Supplies & Equipment||500||0||500||0||0||0||0||78|
The ministry has three full-time employees who support and provide services to OMAFRA’s two adjudicative agencies, which include the Board. The three full-time employees assigned include two Adjudicative Services Coordinators/Board Secretaries, one of whom is bilingual to better serve francophone clients across the province, and one Adjudicative Administrative Assistant, who supports the coordinators and Board members. The ministry provides administrative and financial support through the Business Services Branch, Research and Corporate Services Division. Legal services are provided to the Board by the Ministry of the Attorney General through a dedicated counsel at the Legal Services Branch (LSB) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs behind an ethical wall from other LSB counsel and ministry staff.
2021-22 fiscal year total remuneration was $80,063.
|Table 4. Board Members 2020-2021 Fiscal Year|
|Chatham||Lawyer||Jan 1, 2020
Jan 1, 2022
|Dec 31, 2021
Dec 31, 2024
|Orangeville||Lawyer||Mar 10, 2021||Mar 9, 2023|
April 28, 2021
April 27, 2023
|Caledon||Beef and cash crop farmer||Oct 26, 2020||Oct 25, 2023|
|Kincardine||Cash crop farmer||April 15, 2019||April 14, 2021|
|Tillsonburg||Dairy and municipal administration background||Jan 30, 2020||Jan 29, 2023|
|Rod de Wolde,
|Millbrook||Swine producer||June 10, 2019
June 10, 2021
|June 9, 2021
June 9, 2024
|Kenilworth||Beef, cow, calf, and sheep background||May 22, 2019
May 22, 2021
|May 21, 2021
May 21, 2024
|Beamsville||Grape grower and vineyard management business operator||
May 22, 2019
May 21, 2021
|Betty Ann MacKinnon, Member||Glencoe||Councilor and retired municipal administrator||
April 29, 2021
April 28, 2023
|Judy Dirksen, Member||Harriston||Cattle and crop producer||April 15, 2021||April 14, 2023|
|Robert Fuller, Member||Simcoe||Lawyer||June 3, 2021||June 2, 2023|
For the period of April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, one new Vice-Chair, Ms. Christine Greydanus, was appointed to the Board. Three new members, Ms. Betty Ann Mackinnon, Ms. Judy Dirksen, and Mr. Robert Fuller were also appointed to the Board.
During the 2021-22 fiscal year, two Board member, Mr. Douglas Eadie and Mr. William George, had their terms end and did not return to the Board.
Copies of full Board decisions are available online at www.canlii.org or may be requested from the Board directly.
Media requests made to the Board are addressed according to the Communications Protocol appended to the MOU between the Minister and the Chair.
All questions regarding any matter pertaining to the Board may be directed to:
Normal Farm Practices Protection Board
1 Stone Road West, 2nd Floor NW
Guelph, Ontario N1G 4Y2
Telephone: (519) 826-3433
Toll-Free: (888) 466-2372 Ext. 519-826-3433
Fax: (519) 826-4232