New chair, new members for Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company
November 1, 2007:
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP) has a new chair, two new board members and three new member organizations. The changes were announced as AEFP, the company that delivers the Environmental Farm Plan program in the province, held its Annual General Meeting in Edmonton Oct. 26.
AEFP is coming off a strong year, says Mike Slomp, executive director. "The past business year saw 4,000 farmers attend EFP workshops, with over 7,000 completing an EFP since the program’s inception. These completed EFPs cover almost a quarter of the agricultural land in the province. As well, over 11,000 producers have participated in workshops. That’s about one in four Alberta producers."
Slomp says growing support from the agricultural industry is particularly gratifying. "Our two newest corporate members, the Potato Growers of Alberta and the Natural Resources Conservation Board, as well as the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association, which joined earlier this year, are an indication of the ongoing growth of the EFP program and its growing reputation in the industry.
"This company is a direct reflection of the agricultural industry," he says. "Each of the 26 AEFP corporate member organizations is entitled to one delegate and the delegates elect the seven-member board of directors. Our new members add to our support base and enhance our ability to reach producers."
In board changes, Glenn Logan of Lomond, representing the Alberta Barley Commission, replaces long-time chair John Kolk, while Shelley Morrison of Debolt, representing Alberta Beef Producers, becomes new vice-chair. Somerlee Bennett of Strathcona County, representing the Alberta Association of Agricultural Fieldmen, becomes new secretary-treasurer.
New board members include Harry Schudlo of Sexsmith representing Alberta Canola Producers and Don Sundgaard of Standard representing Alberta Chicken Producers. They replace outgoing board members John Kolk and Robert Filkohazy.
The meeting’s speakers presented a strong statement of recognition for the growth of the EFP program, says Slomp. Feature speaker Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, congratulated AEFP on its success and outlined his support for environmental sustainability programs as a key part of the next generation of federal agricultural policy.
John Donner, Assistant Deputy Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Food, reiterated the Alberta government’s support for the program, saying the EFP process has helped engage the industry in a more systematic identification of new stewardship opportunities to manage their practices and to lessen the impact on the environment.
A sign of growing marketing support for the EFP program came from Ernie Van Boom, chair of the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA). He outlined the PGA’s decision to encourage development of an EFP from its producer members as part of the organization’s brand for Canadian quality.
Another strong indicator of support for the EFP program is environmental improvements made at the on-farm level. The majority of producers with completed EFPs have also applied to the companion Canada-Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP), to implement on-farm actions that address risks identified in their EFP. Minister Ritz noted that, "When currently approved stewardship projects are completed, Alberta farmers will have invested more than $40 million in beneficial management practices. These investments will have in turn leveraged an investment by the federal government of more than $20 million. So, in total, by the end of the CAFSP program, over $60 million will have been invested in on-farm action."
Fiona Briody of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (AAFC – PFRA) presented a preliminary analysis of the EFP and CAFSP programs and noted that "The strongest improvements have been made in the areas identified as having some of the highest risks to the environment."
Through the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), the Government of Canada provides technical assistance and major funding to the EFP program in Alberta, with the Government of Alberta providing additional in-kind technical 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.
More information on the EFP program and AEFP is available on the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company Web site at www.AlbertaEFP.com or by calling toll-free in Alberta 1-866-844-2337.