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Minimum distance separation guidelines updated for 2007

By Gary Sliworsky
Ag. Rep.

Across Ontario, agriculture has evolved over time to meet various economic, environmental and social changes. Therefore, the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Implementation Guidelines have been updated and improved to better meet the challenges facing Ontario’s agricultural and rural communities today. The 2006 version of the MDS formulae comes into effect on January 1, 2007. The purpose of the MDS formulae is to minimize nuisance complaints due to odour from livestock facilities and to reduce land use incompatibility. MDS is made up of two separate, but related formulae (MDS I and MDS II).
·used to determine a minimum setback distance between proposed new development and existing livestock facilities or permanent manure storages
·intended to protect farmers from non-farm land uses
·setbacks are increasing about 10 to 20 per cent compared to the setbacks found in MDS 1995
·provides greater protection for farm operations, especially where small livestock facilities are located on large parcels of land

·setbacks have generally stayed the same for most types of livestock
·farmers wanting to build a new barn, or expand a barn will have to meet MDS II before a building permit is issued
·In most cases, the setbacks have only increased or decreased 1 to 2 per cent from MDS 1995
·Sheep setbacks have generally decreased
·Setbacks for segregated early weaning (SEW) swine barns have increased. This is the only type of swine operation which has been increased. Setbacks for other swine operations are comparable to the 1995 version.
·Setbacks have been increased for very small livestock facilities (i.e. less than 10 nutrient units) in part recognizing the large number of complaints that Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs staff have received regarding odour.
Most farmers who apply for a building permit after January 1, 2007 will not find a substantial change to the MDS II setbacks. Until the municipality updates its by-law, the MDS 1995 rules will apply in that municipality. Farmers should check with their local municipality for more information, about when the new version of MDS II becomes effective in their municipality, and what setbacks they must meet before a barn can be constructed. For more information about MDS please contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300, or visit our website at <>

Dates to Remember

Jan.17 – Rainy River Cattlemens’ Annual Meeting, 7:00 pm, Stratton
Jan. 31 – Grower Pesticide Safety Course. Call 1-800-652-8573 to register.
Feb. 7 – Day 1, Environmental Farm Plan Workshop, Emo Legion, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.