Environmental farm planning season is now well underway again as field work wraps up and producers enrol in workshops.
Taking a workshop and developing an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), which is voluntary and confidential, both increases a producer’s environmental awareness of their farm, by identifying the farm’s assets and risks, and enables them to develop and pursue action plans to address those risks.
Clearly producers see advantages in the opportunity to do so.
Attendance at workshops thus far has been very good, said Laura Grzenda, Arborg-based land management specialist with the Agri-Resource Branch of Manitoba Agriculture.
“Usually this is our greatest uptake anyway, but there has been quite a lot of interest,” she said.
Since 2004 over 6,000 producers in Manitoba have participated in the program and completed an EFP assessing more than 9.3 million acres of agricultural land.
Producers have various reasons behind their decision to attend a one-day workshop and complete the steps of developing a plan.
Some express intrinsic interest in and concern for the environment and how their farm interacts with it.
Others have specific beneficial management practices (BMPs) they want to implement to improve the value and health of their land and adopt an EFP, which is a prerequisite to be eligible for BMP funding programs through Ag Action Manitoba.
There are also specialized industry and market-based requirements requiring that certain types of producers have EFPs.
Potato producers, for example, must complete EFPs to qualify for contracts. Likewise, Roquette pea processing will require its producers to meet a certain sustainable sourcing standard and has identified the EFP as a best means to achieve this.
A specific pea production chapter is now being developed in conjunction with that facility.
Producers wanting to participate in the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) program must complete an EFP.
Manitoba Agriculture staff have now hosted eight of the 15 Environmental Farm Plan workshops scheduled for this fall, but more can be scheduled as need is identified.
Any producer wanting to get into a workshop, can contact their nearest Manitoba Agriculture office and ask to be put on a waiting list. Beyond those currently planned, more will be offered wherever enough interest is shown.
“Once we have a decent group size, we’ll hold a workshop at any time throughout the year as long as producers are available and interested to come,” said Grzenda.
To finalize the EFP process a completed workbook must be reviewed by a Keystone Agricultural Producer reviewer within one year of completing the workshop.
Upon successful review, a statement of completion certificate is presented and is valid for five years in Manitoba.
Preregistration to participate in a workshop is required and spots fill up fast.
For more information on the program and dates of workshops visit the Manitoba Agriculture website.