Alberta launches new season of Environmental Farm Plan workshops
January 7, 2009:
Alberta farmers and ranchers who want to complete an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) can now sign up for EFP workshops. A new season is underway.
An EFP is designed to help agricultural producers identify environmental strengths and weaknesses in their operations. Attending a one-day workshop is the first step in the EFP process. Participation is free and as simple as calling the program toll-free line to register.
"Many Alberta farmers and ranchers have already completed an Environmental Farm Plan since the program’s introduction in 2002," says Mike Slomp, executive director of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP), which delivers the program in the province. "Interest continues to grow as interest in agricultural sustainability grows."
The EFP process is a straightforward one. The EFP workshop introduces the planning process and reviews the main planning tool, the EFP workbook provided to all participants. Producers complete the sections in the workbook that apply to their operations and complete their actual farm plans on their own time at home.
One of the real benefits of participation in the EFP program is access to qualified Technical Assistants (TAs), says Slomp. "TAs help EFP participants understand the technical details of the EFP process in the workshop setting and are also qualified to help producers make environmental changes on their own operations."
Once completed, participants submit their EFPs to the workshop TA and District Program Coordinator, who make comments and recommendations on the plan and, if necessary, suggest additional options for addressing specific risks. Once the plan has been reviewed and returned, the producer receives an application for a farm gate sign and certificate, acknowledging their participation and interest in making agriculture more environmentally sustainable.
"Something new this year is that we’ve introduced a CD version of the workbook," says Slomp. "Workshop participants will have the choice of using the workbook, the CD, or both."
To date, over 12,000 producers across Alberta have attended an EFP workshop with over 8,000 farmers and ranchers, representing 14.5 million acres of land, going on to complete their own farm plans.
More information on EFP workshops is available by calling the AEFP office toll-free at 1-866-844-2337. General information is available on the AEFP Company Web site at www.AlbertaEFP.com.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has provided major funding and technical support to the EFP program in Alberta, with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development providing additional in-kind support services to help the agricultural sector develop and implement EFPs.
Support has also been provided by the Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta, through the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Initiative, the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (AESA) Program and various ministries of the Government of Alberta.