Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (Alberta EFP) is making changes to better align the program with international sustainable sourcing standards for environmental practices. The changes will streamline the process of certifying on-farm sustainability practices and will better fulfill end-user requirements.
These improvements emerged from a recent comparative study conducted by Alberta EFP, Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley. The study compared Alberta’s Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) to three international sustainable sourcing standards including the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus Program, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Farmer Self-Assessment and Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Code. These three programs comprise criteria related to environmental, social and economic issues, and were the same programs used to build the framework for the Alberta Crops Sustainability Certification Pilot project, the first phase of this study.
The results of this study indicate that Alberta’s Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) includes most of the environmental criteria outlined in all three international programs, but also demonstrated where change would better align its EFP to meet criteria.
“Overall, our EFP does a good job of covering agro-environmental concerns, regardless of which international standard we are compared to,” said Paul Watson, Alberta EFP Director. “There are some criteria identified in these standards such as habitat and species-at-risk protection that could be further developed in Alberta’s EFP.”
Watson will seek guidance on next steps from Alberta’s EFP Stakeholder Advisory Committee, which has representation from ag industry associations and government, when they meet later this month. “The committee has already indicated that their priority will be to address the gaps found in the environmental criteria,” says Watson.
Criteria included in the EFP are developed in consultation with provincial agricultural associations. The comparative study on sustainable sourcing standards is one of the latest initiatives to emerge from these collaborations.
“We were pleased to partner with Alberta EFP on this initiative,” said crops representative and Alberta Wheat Commission government relations and policy manager Erin Gowriluk. “We see the importance of sustainably sourced crops growing in the marketplace, and making necessary program improvements to improve the EFP are the next steps in improving that process for farmers.”
As demands for sustainable sourcing grow within the agro-food industry, it will become increasingly important to demonstrate that sound environmental practices are followed. To view the benchmarking report, click here. To learn more about Sustainable Sourcing, click here.
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan was developed in 2003 and has been operated by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta since 2013. Under this program, producers complete a voluntary self-assessment of the environmental aspects of their operations; more than 8,000 producers have completed a plan.
Environmental Farm Plan Director
Alberta Wheat Commission