Farmers Forum staff
OTTAWA — An update is in the works for the Environmental Farm Plan — one that incorporates the latest concerns about climate change and sustainability — and Ontario farmers have until Dec. 17 to participate in an online survey about the future scope of this key document that many farms are now effectively compelled to keep on file.
The Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) has been around for 30 years. Today, a lot of farms must complete an EFP to adhere to mandated industry standards or local planning regulations. The document typically catalogs a farm’s environmental strengths and weaknesses and lays out action plans for making improvements. In its current form, completing an EFP may involve filling out as many as 23 worksheets at a two-day workshop.
The EFP was last updated in 2013, and the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) — which administers the program — will release a new “modernized” edition in 2025.
The upcoming EFP will include “new areas of focus like biodiversity and climate change,” OSCIA director of operations Barb Caswell confirmed.
Among other questions, the survey asks participants to select their top 3 environmental concerns from a list that includes: weather volatility, soil health, water quality, water management, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and/or carbon sequestration, nutrient management, and waste reduction and management.
The survey opened at the end of November. Farmers may participate at www.surveymonkey.com/r/V69QV99 until Dec. 17.
The survey report will be released in the spring. Further deliberations with farm groups will also occur before then, according to Caswell.
The EFP is jointly funded by the provincial and federal governments, to the tune of $4.1 million over the next five years through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership fund. Those dollars also cover the planned update.