Environmental Farm Plan continues progress in Alberta
June 29, 2006:
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan company says numbers of participants, numbers of completed plans and number of beneficial management practices implemented show the EFP program’s increasing popularity in Alberta.
"The reason we were set up as a non-profit company in the first place is to get producers using EFPs to make progress on their farms and ranches," says Mike Slomp, executive director of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company. "That is why we use the numbers we do to measure progress."
Each EFP starts with the producer attending a free workshop. The total number of participants in workshop one is the simplest, purest measure of progress. These numbers are a sign of people having enough initial interest to take the first step to an EFP.
Just over 4,100 producers across the province have taken the first step and attended workshop one for the period of April 2005 to May 2006. Since the program’s inception in 2002, workshop one participants number 6,814. This represents approximately 10 percent of the farm units in the province.
Workshop two is the next step in the process and also the next measure of progress. "It’s where farmers and ranchers return, usually after working through the workbook, to share their ideas with other farmers and technical assistants to build a prioritized plan to address the risks they identified through completing the workbook," says Slomp.
Nearly 5, 500 farmers and ranchers have returned to workshop two over the life of the program.
The ultimate sign of success is in the number of ’reviewed plans.’ An EFP is reviewed when it is anonymously submitted to a peer review panel. The review committee, created from local producers who have completed an EFP, will deem the plan appropriate when it adequately addresses the risks brought forward into the action plan.
To date, 3,643 EFPs have been reviewed and deemed appropriate, of these, 2,896 were completed in the 14 months from April 2005 to May 2006.
Another measure of success is the funding support numbers associated with the Canada Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP). This program supports farmers and ranchers who have completed an EFP by providing access to funds for on-farm environmental improvements. Up to $30,000 per farm is available for BMP projects.
Thanks to this program, Alberta producers have spent over $10 million on nearly 1,000 BMP projects and have been reimbursed almost $4 million from CAFSP.
"The success we’ve seen is due to many factors," says Slomp. "But perhaps the biggest factor in our success is a general commitment by farmers and ranchers to get involved and do the right thing for environmental stewardship on their operation."
For more information on the Environmental Farm Plan program, including workshop dates and locations, visit the AEFP Web site at www.albertaEFP.com or contact the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company office in Edmonton toll-free at 1-866-844-2337. For more information on CAFSP, contact the program office toll-free at 1-800-667-8567.
AEFP was established in 2002 as an industry-run, non-profit corporation that delivers EFP services to Alberta farmers. Through the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), the Government of Canada provides major funding to the EFP program in Alberta, with the Government of Alberta providing additional in-kind support services to help the agricultural sector develop and implement EFPs.
Additional support has been provided by the Agriculture and Food Council, through the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Initiative, the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Council (AESA) and various ministries of the Government of Alberta. Contributions have also come from more than 100 local municipalities, businesses and agricultural organizations.