Alberta producers apply for $6.7 million in environmental improvements
April 24, 2006:
Alberta producers applied for just over $6.7 million for environmental on-farm improvements through the Canada-Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP) in 2005. That increasingly-popular program offers up to $30,000 per operation for a broad range of on-farm environmental improvements.
An EFP is a voluntary, confidential self-assessment of the environmental strengths and weaknesses of a farm or ranch. Completing an EFP is a prerequisite for CAFSP funding eligibility; last year, producers who completed EFPs made just under 1,400 applications for CAFSP funding.
This high volume of applications is testament to CAFSP’s growing value as a funding source, says Mike Slomp, executive director of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (AEFP) Company, the non-profit company which delivers the EFP program in the province.
"It tells us that Alberta producers are interested in the environmental sustainability of their farms and ranches and are willing to address the areas of improvement identified in their EFPs. It also sends a signal to those who have not yet completed EFPs that there is some real value in developing one."
There are 26 general categories of environmental improvements eligible for funding under the CAFSP program. The top five categories producers most applied for included improved cropping system (which can include equipment such as GPS guidance systems); product and waste management; relocation of livestock confinement; improved manure storage and handling; and wintering site management.
The first step towards becoming eligible for CAFSP funding is to attend the first of two free, half-day EFP workshops. "These workshops provide participants with the tools to develop their own EFPs," says Slomp. "However, it’s completely up to them whether to complete one or not; producers like the fact that the program is entirely voluntary."
The general guidelines for applying for funding through the CAFSP program are worth restating, says Bob Cameron, CAFSP program manager with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA). They include not spending money on a project before approval, developing the necessary plans and knowing the costs of the project.
"Until recently, producers applying for CAFSP funding had four quarterly deadlines to meet throughout the year," says Cameron. "Although those deadlines are no longer in effect, applicants still need to consider their own deadlines when making an application as it usually takes six to eight weeks to process an application."
Further information on the EFP program, including workshop times and locations, is available by calling the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (AEFP) office in Edmonton toll-free at 1-866-844-2337 or by visiting AEFP’s Web page at www.albertaEFP.com. For more information on CAFSP, contact the program office toll-free at 1-800-667-8567.
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 Environmental Farm Plans.
Additional support has been provided by the Agriculture and Food Council, through the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Initiative, the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Council and various ministries of the Government of Alberta. Contributions have also come from more than 100 local municipalities, businesses and agricultural organizations.