The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan is being streamlined as part of a process to better align the program with international sustainable sourcing standards for environmental practices.
These improvements emerged from a recent comparative study conducted by Alberta EFP, Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley. The study compared the plan to three international sustainable sourcing standards — the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus Program, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Farmer Self-Assessment, and Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Code. These three programs were also used to build the framework for the Alberta Crops Sustainability Certification Pilot project, the first phase of this study.
“Overall, our EFP does a good job of covering agro-environmental concerns, regardless of which international standard we are compared to,” said Paul Watson, Alberta EFP director. “There are some criteria identified in these standards such as habitat and species-at-risk protection that could be further developed in Alberta’s EFP.”
Watson said he will seek guidance on next steps from an advisory committee, which has representation from ag associations and government, to address the gaps found in the environmental criteria.
“The importance of sustainably sourced crops growing in the marketplace, and making necessary program improvements to improve the EFP are the next steps in improving that process for farmers,” said Erin Gowriluk, government relations and policy manager for the Alberta Wheat Commission.
The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan was developed in 2003 and has been operated by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta since 2013. More than 8,000 producers have completed a plan, which is based on a self-assessment of the environmental aspects of their operations.