The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management estimates that barn fires cost Ontario farmers more than $25 million per year (2012-2014 average)

Barn fires, natural disasters, equipment failures and diseases are devastating events for farmers, their families and workers, and the neighbouring community. Planning ahead to reduce risks, and preventing accidents with a safe operation will help to protect employees, family members and animals.

Emergency events can cause substantial loss to a farm operation, creating unique challenges for farmers, including the disposal of large volumes of deadstock.

The Disposal of Dead Farm Animals Regulation under the Nutrient Management Act was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to manage on-farm livestock deaths. The regulation provides deadstock management options for farmers to minimize environmental impacts and biosecurity hazards. While burial was historically the chosen option for barn debris and deadstock, the increase in the number of animals per facility and changes in the building materials increase the risks of doing so. Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method.

Farmers can apply to OMAFRA for an Emergency Authorization for the storage, disposal or transportation of deadstock when emergency conditions exist that make it difficult to dispose of deadstock according to the regulation.

OMAFRA works with farmers, commodity groups, insurance companies, municipalities and trucking companies to ensure that deadstock is disposed of as soon as possible. In granting an exemption, OMAFRA considers the various factors of the situation, such as:

  • the urgency of the situation
  • the number and size of animals to be disposed
  • biosecurity risks
  • time of year
  • the condition of the deadstock and building debris
  • site conditions, including proximity to tile drains, location of surface water and wells, and depth to groundwater

Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress during an emergency. We encourage farmers to develop a contingency plan for emergency situations. Visit for information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation. Visit for useful resources, including information on preventative maintenance for farm buildings and our book, “Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm.”

Click here for a poster that can be used to record emergency contact information. It is recommended that it be displayed along with other emergency information.