Five producers join Environmental Farm Plan facilitator network
January 4, 2006:
Five more Alberta producers have joined the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP) as local co-ordinators in the delivery of Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs) across the province.
Russ Kowtun of St. Paul, Carol Rempel of Warburg, Gordon Ellis of Olds, Glen Smith of Vermilion and Elaine Lysons of Ponoka have joined a network of 21 other facilitators. Serving as front-line contacts in the delivery of EFPs, their job is to make producers aware of the program, organize workshops and act as primary contacts to facilitate the completion of plans.
An EFP is a voluntary, confidential tool producers can use to assess the environmental strengths and weaknesses on their farms and ranches. Offered at no cost to producers, the process recognizes good management practices and flags practices that should be changed to reduce risk.
"The facilitators play a very fundamental and important role in the overall delivery of Environmental Farm Plan services," says Mike Slomp, Executive Director of AEFP. "For farmers and ranchers, they often represent the first impression of the EFP program. Being producers themselves helps them speak convincingly to other farmers about the value of this good stewardship program."
Russ Kowtun, AEFP facilitator for the St. Paul area, is a recently retired owner of a mixed grain and cattle farm. He developed an EFP because he wanted to know more about his operation and the aspects he could improve.
"One of the things developing an EFP forced me to do is take an inventory of my farm," says Kowtun. "It made me take a closer look at what was happening in the operation so I could identify a few issues that should be looked at." Producers can contact Kowtun at (780) 645-6960.
Carol Rempel, AEFP facilitator for Leduc County, has a wide range of experience in the facilitation field. She and her husband live on a small acreage in Warburg that they have turned into a small agritourism operation.
"I think we should all be stewards of the environment," says Rempel. "I’m excited to work with farmers in Leduc County on an action plan that will help provide environmental sustainability for future generations." Producers can contact Rempel at (780) 848-7787.
Gordon Ellis, AEFP facilitator for Starland County and Kneehill County, operates a 2,700-acre grain operation east of Olds, where he and his brother have farmed for the past 19 years. He produces wheat, barley and canola. Ellis was drawn to the EFP program out of a desire to create more environmental awareness in his own operation.
"I think that land and the environment is a farmer’s greatest resource," he says. "Taking steps to protect those resources is a beneficial management practice." Producers can contact Ellis at (403) 556-1258.
Glen Smith, AEFP facilitator for the Vermilion area, runs a cow-calf operation and mixed farm. He completed his EFP in 2003, which was a "very positive and painless" process that will benefit his farm for years to come. "Farmers are basically all environmentalists at heart," he says. "We work with the environment every day so we have a true appreciation and passion for it." Producers can contact Smith at (780) 853-2194.
Elaine Lysons, AEFP facilitator for Lacombe County, runs a custom grazing operation near Ponoka. She completed her EFP in 2004 and was impressed by the ease of the EFP process and the advantages available to producers who complete them. "Not only is an EFP a great educational tool, but it also provides producers with the financial tools to help make environmental improvements." Producers can contact Lysons at (403) 783-8245.
AEFP was established in 2002 as an industry-run, non-profit corporation that delivers EFP services to Alberta farmers. Through the Agricultural Policy Framework, 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 and various ministries of the Government of Alberta. Contributions have also come from more than 100 local municipalities, businesses and agricultural organizations.
More information on AEFP is available by calling the company head office in Edmonton toll free at 1-866-844-2337 or by visiting the Web site at: www.albertaEFP.com.