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March 20, 2012:
Sometimes the simple things are what really makes an EFP worthwhile, says Christoph Weder.
Christoph Weder of Prairie Heritage Beef says the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) process is a key building block to strengthening a beef operation.
Producers involved in the premium beef brand are required to have completed an EFP and Weder believes this attribute is something more beef buyers are interested in.
But while Weder wants to produce what he calls "Cadillac beef," he doesn't need - or want - what many view as "the five star Cadillac Escalade lifestyle," with all the bells and whistles typically associated with business success.
"Everyone has their own values. For us, the ability to live out here and make a good living ranching in a way we can take pride in is all the reward."
At a basic level, the most tangible benefits are simple ones that make themselves evident everyday, he says. "For many of the ranchers I know, it's just kind of nice to go into your pasture and see its got sedges and willows growing on the edges, a few deer passing by and ducks flying through, as opposed to one that's been beat up all around. You can't put a price tag on that. That to me is the country version of a true five-star lifestyle."
March 20, 2012:
No need to re-invent the wheel when expectations are evolving
Food safety and environmental stewardship are two issues linked by rising expectations in today's marketplace for agriculture and food products. But while food safety standards have long been established, on the stewardship side there are many factors at play - where the chips will ultimately fall remains a work in progress.
That can pose a challenge for food companies in preparing for the future. Yves LeClerc, director of agronomy with McCain Foods, sees the merit in tools such as the Environmental Farm Plan that have the flexibility to meet changing expectations.
"Sustainability in my mind is at a state where it's still evolving quite a bit," says LeClerc. "There is still a lot of discussion on metrics, on practices, and there's no real standard internationally at this point in time. What we don't want to do is create something that only works short term or that represents a re-inventing of the wheel."
McCain's approach has been to monitor for existing approaches that can help get the job done, have some traction with producers already and are adaptable for the future. "What we've chosen to do on this front in Canada is to use a tool that already exists, works well and that we know producers are using, which can be used to whatever extent needed to try to meet our customers' requirements. That tool is the Environmental Farm Plan."