New delivery process, same value for farm EFPs in AlbertaDate posted: July 16, 2010
New delivery process, same value for farm EFPs in Alberta
Alberta farmers and ranchers who wish to complete an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) or update their existing one, will find that the process has been changed in the province. Program delivery is now coordinated through Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD).
That's the only real EFP program change. Resource materials used and the technical assistance available to producers are the same. The reasons to complete an EFP are as strong and valid as ever and producers completing an EFP today join more than 12,000 Alberta producers who have taken those steps since the program's inception.
"The EFP process is designed to be simple and straightforward," says program spokesperson, Perry Phillips, who serves in EFP training and support and has worked with the EFP program over the past several years. The EFP is a voluntary self-assessment process for producers to determine strengths and weaknesses of their farming operation from an environmental perspective.
To begin their EFP process, producers contact the ARD toll-free helpline at 310-FARM (3276). They will be referred to a Technical Assistant. A paper version of the EFP workbook and a new CD version are available free of charge. Producers can complete an EFP on an individual basis or by participating in workshops where available.
Producers learn the process and how to use the workbook to review all aspects of their operation and finalize their EFP. One of the first steps in completing the EFP is to assess the farm's soil and site characteristics. Local qualified EFP Technical Assistants are available for assistance throughout the process.
Once completed, the producer has the choice to submit their plan to a qualified EFP Technical Assistant for a review and feedback. It will be returned with a letter of completion along with any suggestions for improvement.
"The EFP is designed to be a living document," says Phillips, "built to be implemented continuously from one year to the next according to the priorities the producer has established. Updating on a regular basis makes sense. Recent experience shows producers have documented real progress using the approach of revisiting and updating the EFP."
Producers understand the value of environmental progress, he says. Some complete an EFP because they want to confirm what is being done properly on their operations and to more clearly understand what is required to meet current standards.
In some cases an EFP are done for business reasons, to apply for support under various programs, or to build producer food branding efforts that meet specific environmental standards of production.
More information is available through the ARD help line at 310-FARM (3276) or on the Alberta EFP website at www.albertaEFP.com. A feature article on this topic is also available on the website.
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