Major environmental farm study released at AEFP AGM
October 27, 2006:
Results of a major new study on barriers to the adoption of conservation and food safety practices among Alberta’s producers was the focus of a special forum hosted by the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP) in Calgary on October 12.
The study, conducted by researchers Ross Mitchell and Marke Ambard of the Alberta Research Council (ARC), explored the key motivators and barriers of Alberta producers to the adoption of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) and provided recommendations for farm extension specialists to address those needs. The presentation was held at the Coast Plaza Hotel in conjunction with the AEFP fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM).
"The project was based on the idea that adoption is not only affected by economic factors but by a host of other social and psychological barriers," says Therese Tompkins, program director for the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP).
"The results of the study provided a focal point for the special forum and gave farm extension specialists the opportunity to come together and discuss the needs and opportunities of the extension industry. This study may also provide a foundation for further research."
Four key points emerged through the research project, including the fact that barriers to adoption are complex and not necessarily barriers; financial aspects, while important, are not the only motivators or barriers; most producers fall in the "middle of the pack" in terms of farming styles and worldviews; and producers and extensionists alike need more discussion on what constitutes BMPs.
Recommendations to extension specialists included recognizing their own biases or worldviews as well as those of producers; developing innovative, carefully-considered methodological tools; and using a diverse set of protocols that are adaptable and adoptable to producers. It was also suggested that conservation and food safety BMPs share many adoption issues yet may require different treatments with the added perspective of consumer health, especially in the case of food safety.
The AGM included the annual business meeting and an overview of the business activities of AEFP over the 2005-06 fiscal year. Highlights included the addition of a new corporate member, the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association, bringing AEFP’s total number of corporate members to 23.
"Also, during the meeting our members expressed unequivocally that they want AEFP to continue representing producer interests with regards to the extension of the Canada-Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP)," says Mike Slomp, executive director of AEFP. CAFSP is the federal cost-share program which offers producers who have completed an EFP up to $50,000 for a range of on-farm environmental improvements.
For more information on the EFP program, visit the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company Web site 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.
For the full study report click here.