Intensive livestock operations are spreading throughout rural Saskatchewan, and while some welcome them as economic opportunites, many others are uneasy. Citizens in several communites have organized to oppose ILOs, citing concerns about health, odour, water quality, and other environmental issues. Questions have also been raised about the impacts of ILOs on social and economic conditions and the quality of rural life. Still, thousands of permits for ILOs had been issued in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan's Agricultural Operations Act defines an ILO as any operation which confines animals to an area of less than 370 square metres per "animal unit" (A 1,000 lb. cow is the standard measurement of an animal unit. Animal unit equivalents (AEUs) have been calculated for various kinds and sizes of animals.).
ILOs include operations that raise poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, elk, deer or bison. Under the regulations of the Act, approval is required for ILOs that have between 20 and 300 animal units if they are located close to water sources not controlled by the operator. Approval is always required for operations of more than 300 animal units and for earthen manure storage.