Stewardship funding program proves popular with producers
November 15, 2005:
The Canada-Alberta Farm Stewardship Program (CAFSP), which offers financial assistance to farmers making on-farm environmental improvements, is proving popular. Producers, who can qualify for up to $30,000 per farm, have applied for over $2 million to date in 2005.
This is also significant news for the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program, as developing a properly completed EFP is a prerequisite for CAFSP approval. An EFP is a voluntary, confidential self-assessment process that helps agricultural producers understand the environmental risks on their farms and decide what’s required to deal with them.
"The CAFSP program has quickly become an important funding source," says Mike Slomp, Executive Director of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan Company (AEFP), the organization that delivers EFPs across the province. "It’s a fairly simple process to be able to qualify for funding assistance."
The first step in the process is developing an EFP, which starts by attending two half-day workshops in communities across the province. "These workshops provide clear, concise information on how to develop an EFP to identify the changes required," says Slomp.
Funding is available for a broad range of environmental farm projects, says Bob Cameron, Program Manager with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA). "But it is important to understand the approval process and reduce the chances of being disappointed."
Probably most important, says Cameron, is not to buy or build before the project is approved. "Receive CASFP approval for the project before undertaking any improvement, buying equipment or hiring a consultant. Also, do not apply for funding on projects that are already done; the CASFP program is not retroactive."
Another point is to do the homework. "Most projects require a proper plan, including background such as aerial photos or hand-drawn diagrams of the proposed project. Producers are also responsible for obtaining any government approvals that may be required before any project is undertaken," says Cameron.
Knowing the various project costs can also make the process run more smoothly. "If the planned improvement involves buying equipment, include at least one price quote for a specific make, model or amount with the application," says Cameron. "And be sure to keep receipts. After the project is approved, the CAFSP will need to receive them before any money is paid."
Next, meet the deadline. There are four CASFP application deadlines during the year: February 28, May 31, August 31 and November 30. "There is still enough time to meet the November 30 deadline, but keep in mind that that there is a lot of planning involved before applying for CAFSP funding," says Cameron.
And timing is everything. "If the project is planned for the next few months, you will have to act fast. The approval process generally takes from six to eight weeks."
More information, including funding categories, is available in two new AEFP Report to Industry newsletters. They are available at the AEFP website at www.albertaEFP.com. Producers can also call AEFP toll-free at 1-866-844-2337. Or they can call the CAFSP central customer service centre at 1-800-667-8567.
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.