Environmental farm improvement funding now more accessible

Environmental farm improvement funding now more accessible

February 21, 2006:

Nine new practices are now eligible as on-farm improvements funded by the popular Canada-Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP).

Producers who complete an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), a free, voluntary assessment of a farm or ranch’s environmental strengths and weaknesses, now have nine new opportunities to access up to $30,000 for environmental farm improvements.

"This is good news for the more than 1,600 Alberta producers that have completed EFPs," says Mike Slomp, executive director of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (AEFP) Company, the non-profit organization that delivers the EFP program in the province. "This expanded funding program will open up new opportunities for producers to make the improvements identified in their EFPs.

"EFP and CAFSP work together to help producers get the most value from their EFPs. Producers told us what additional improvements they would most like to make on their operations and we worked with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to include them. It’s another example of how we’re working with the industry to meet the needs of Alberta farmers and ranchers."

The new eligible practices include composting of manure and dead animals, improved silage storage, zero-till openers, pressure jug rinsers, rinse tanks on sprayers, conversions to low pressure pivots and wetland restoration. There is a slight adjustment in the category for GPS-controlled variable rate technology and in-kind labour rates have been increased to $20/hour for all categories. Also, the maximum amount producers can receive under the "Nutrient recovery from waste water - Greenhouses" category has been increased to $20,000.

"These practices must be environmentally effective, scientifically sound, widely accepted and have some benefit to the public," says Fiona Briody of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA).

"No-till openers, for example, have been added because of the important role they play in minimum tillage systems," says Briody. "Pressure jug rinsers hold substantial safety benefits for producers, while conversion to low pressure pivots can create efficiencies for irrigation farmers."

Some of these additions were also driven by improvements in technology and better understanding of the practices involved. "Composting of manure and dead animals, for example, wasn’t previously included. However, technology and knowledge on the subject have now advanced to the point where it’s an accepted practice," says Briody.

CAFSP has quickly become an important funding source for on-farm environmental improvements. Producers across Alberta have accessed nearly $1.8 million to date.

"Although it’s a fairly simple process to be able to qualify for funding assistance, it’s important to understand the approval process and reduce the chances of being disappointed," says Briody.

A completed EFP is required to apply to the CAFSP program. All CAFSP program applications must be approved prior to starting a project. For most projects, PFRA will review applications and get responses back to applicants within 30 to 45 days. More information on the CAFSP application process and eligible categories is available by calling the CAFSP central customer service centre at 1 800 667-8567.

More information on EFPs is available at the AEFP Web site at www.albertaEFP.com. Producers can also call AEFP toll-free at 1 866 844-2337.

AEFP was established in 2002 as an industry-run, non-profit corporation that delivers EFP services to Alberta farmers. 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 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.


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