Paul R. Watson.
Alberta Environmental Farm Plan, Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta, Leduc, Alberta, Canada.
The Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole farm, self-assessment tool that helps producers identify their environmental risks and develop plans to mitigate identified risks. Historically, EFP uptake has been driven by agri-environmental funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of Alberta through the Agriculture Policy Framework. In order to access funding for specific items (e.g. solar well pumps), producers were required to have a current EFP. Consumers and the agri-food industry are demanding proof that agricultural products are safe and healthy, and grown with minimal impact on the environment (“sustainably-sourced”). This represents the social license required for Alberta producers to market their products within the global food chain. Future EFP uptake will be driven by industry and consumer demand for sustainably-sourced agricultural products. What this means for Alberta producers is that we will increasingly be called upon to demonstrate that our products are produced sustainably. Alberta EFP is proactively preparing for this future by working with industry, sustainable sourcing initiatives, and other EFP programs to create national standards reduce overlap and to simplify the EFP as much possible, while retaining its provincial and regional relevance. We have undertaken initiatives to: 1) identify changes required in EFP to be in compliance with international sustainable sourcing standards, 2) be in compliance with international sustainable sourcing standards, and, 3) modify, simplify, and automate the EFP process to facilitate the increase in EFP uptake from the current hundreds of producers to the thousands anticipated. These changes will enhance the social license Alberta producers have historically enjoyed.