Linking Sustainable Alberta Agriculture to the World

Anna Aldridge Blog

Sustainability is a major consumer trend that appears to be developing into a long-term standard.  The agriculture industry is moving towards sustainable sourcing and it is likely that the agriculture industry in Alberta and Canada will need to keep pace with this change.  Anticipating this new normal, programs appear to be multiplying at a fevered pace.  It can get complicated understanding what this will mean.  Most often, many of the new programs benchmark their standard against the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform’s Farmer Sustainability Assessment version 2.0 (FSA 2.0). Luckily for those holding an up to date Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) in Alberta the work could be easier and the opportunities greater.

Understanding sustainability from a global perspective

Recently Alberta EFP contracted a benchmarking study produced by the Wilton Group to see how the EFP + federal and provincial legislation stacked up against FSA 2.0.  The FSA 2.0 is a series of questions that farmers around the world can answer and understand how they stack up against similar farms around the world.  According to the :

 “The FSA is used globally in 32 countries and is currently available in 18 languages. It is used by stakeholders throughout the value chain, with food and drink companies using it for sustainable sourcing, and farmers using it to assess their sustainability”

It is important to note that the FSA 2.0 was created by the SAI Platform – an organization of major customers of the agriculture industry worldwide.  Many of these corporations such as Unilever, Danone and Nestle have their own inhouse sustainability mandates that dictate how they purchase agricultural products.  With these major purchasers placing a significant priority on sustainable sourcing, it is clear that the leadership on sustainability is found at all levels of the industry.

Defining and aligning sustainability benchmarks

Sustainability can be assessed in several ways, but the SAI uses the People, Planet and Profit model.

The Alberta EFP has a clear focus on the environment which does not fulfill all of the requirements of the “three P” model of sustainability.  However, even with the additional standards of profit and people, Alberta producers with an EFP are very close to reaching significant global standards of bronze and silver.  Not only are these farmers close to achieving these levels but their process to get there is significantly streamlined.   Ultimately this could help EFP holders have increased market access at home and abroad with little extra work.

Clearing a path for the future of agriculture in Alberta on a global scale

Aligning the two programs even more than they already are is important for the agriculture industry in Alberta The Alberta EFP is reviewing all of our processes to make sure that they are more FSA “friendly”. So, when the opportunities present themselves, Alberta farmers can take advantage of them easily with the help of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan.