Moving Towards A sustainable Future
Consumers are increasingly wanting to purchase their food from sustainable sources. While there have always been benefits to farming using sustainable practices, the food industry is beginning to reward farmers that continue to adopt best management practices. Alberta EFP wanted to be able to showcase the outstanding work that farms with current EFPs are doing and link these farmers to new and growing markets. In the past few years, the Alberta EFP has worked with a global standard for those wishing to source their agricultural products sustainably.
EFP+ program connects Industry and Farmers to The SAI Platform
As of March 2021, the Alberta EFP program has launched a new feature to our platform where industry groups and agribusiness can take advantage of this program to be able to make a claim of FSA Silver. We call it EFP+. This is an additional component to an EFP which includes a few additional questions for those farmers part of an established Farm Management group. Alberta EFP has met all the required conditions to help Farm Management groups in Alberta and the farmers that supply them, to align themselves with this global standard. Learn more on our FAQ page. The FSA is widely recognized as a food and drink industry reference for sustainable crop farming. It was created to encourage the industry-wide adoption of better management practices that improve farm performance and sustainability outcomes.
Sustainable Sourcing in Alberta
Canadian food giant McCain’s will only purchase produce from farms with a completed EFP. As a result, the Potato Growers of Alberta make EFP completion a requirement of membership. The beef industry is planning to include EFP as part of their Verified Beef program and the dairy industry have added an EFP for each farmer to their proAction program.
These impending market requirements around sustainable production mean Alberta producers will increasingly be called upon to demonstrate that our food is produced sustainably. It will mean having standards to adhere to and documentation to demonstrate our actions. As Cherie says in the video below, “We’re not going to like some of the questions they ask - but we are going to have to answer them." However, the good news is that Alberta EFP thinks this will mainly mean changes to documentation with only minimal changes to production practices.
CanadaGAP a food safety program for fresh fruits and vegetables. The program consists of national food safety standards and a certification system for produce suppliers. Two manuals, one specific to greenhouse operations, the second for other fruit and vegetable operations, have been designed for companies implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in their production, packing and storage operations and for repackers and wholesalers implementing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs. The program is also designed for fresh produce brokers implementing best practices in supplier management and product traceability. The program is based on HACCP and undergoes a rigorous technical review and oversight by Canadian government officials. The program is open to suppliers who need to demonstrate to their customers that they are meeting food safety requirements. Program participants are required to pass a third party audit specifically based on the CanadaGAP manuals.
Verified Beef Production (VBP) is Canada’s verified on-farm food safety program for beef – a dynamic program to uphold consumer confidence in the products and good practices of this country’s beef producers. Canada’s beef producers already have a reputation for acting responsibly, but VBP takes that to a new level. Grass-roots driven and industry-led, the program is part of a broad effort by Canada’s food providers to ensure on-farm food safety. It’s based on the principles of an international quality control program used widely in many industries, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which has been specifically adapted for VBP. The overall result is stronger competitiveness for Canada’s beef industry, as food safety continues to grow as a major factor in consumer buying decisions. Click on the following links to jump to different sections of VBP information included below, or simply continue reading down to view the complete information.
Through proAction, Canadian dairy farmers collectively demonstrate responsible stewardship of their animals and the environment, sustainably producing high quality, safe and nutritious food for consumers. To offer the best milk every day, Canadian dairy farmers have excellent standards and practices. DFC and members initiated the development of proAction to offer a program to farmers that will assure our clients about the good practices on Canadian dairy farms. With proAction, farmers offer proof they work to ensure milk quality and safety, while meeting societal expectations related to animal care, health, welfare as well as environmental stewardship.
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform is the global standard for sustainable sourcing and is partnered with many big-name corporations such as Bacardi, Heineken, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and McDonald’s to recognize, develop and implement sustainable practices in mainstream agricultural production. The environmental component of the SAI Farm Sustainability Assessment version 2.1 is comparable to EFP.
Read about how Alberta EFP connects to the SAI Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment version 2.1 (FSA 2.1)
Completing an EFP is an important first step in producing livestock, field and horticultural crops that meet standards for sustainable sourcing. Many large agri-food businesses and major restaurant chains are moving toward only purchasing products that are from sustainably sourced operations. Producers who ignore this market tend will most likely see their market share decrease exponentially. Industry is also responding to this market demand. When food giant McCain’s said they would only purchase products that are sustainably sourced, the Potato Growers of Alberta made completing an EFP a requirement for membership.
Alberta EFP is a leader in the development of sustainable sourcing standards that meet international requirements. We partnered with Alberta Barley on a project to determine if our standards meet global standards. We are working with provincial EFPs across Canada to try and establish a national standard for sustainable sourcing in Canada.
Sustainable sourcing means buying goods from suppliers who adhere to a code of practice that reduces the social, economic, and environmental impacts of food production, processing, and distribution. Environmental criteria include soil stewardship, nutrient management, agrochemical use, biodiversity enhancement and protection, and water. Social criteria are composed of human rights, worker conditions, social protection, employment relations, human development and social dialogue. Management criteria include economic viability, sustainable management, and supply chain responsibilities. Ethics criteria include no forced or child labour, prevention of corruption and compliance with legislation.
In recent years, major corporations have committed to increasing the proportion of sustainably-sourced agricultural products. For example, Unilever has committed to sourcing 100% of their agricultural materials sustainably. This will ripple through the food chain since Unilever was the third-largest consumer goods company in 2012 (Wikipedia). They work in partnership with other large multinationals on agricultural sustainability.