Here at Dingo Farms, we are excited to be a part of Growing Forward 2’s program, the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan. This is a voluntary environmental education and awareness program for farms and farming families to partake in. What this program does is to allow farm families to increase their environmental awareness in up to 23 different areas on their farm. By going through the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) local workshop process, farmers are able to highlight their farm’s environmental strengths, identify areas of environmental concern, and set realistic action plans with time tables to improve environmental conditions (Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association, 2017). The EFP can then be used in conjunction with cost-share programs to begin implementing their action plans.
All farm operations deal with materials that, if improperly handled, have the potential to contaminate and damage our environment. Learning about the risks on our farm will help us develop plans of action to use in the event of a spill or other emergency. The process of developing a customized Emergency Plan will put essential information at our fingertips in the event of an emergency. A completed Emergency Plan is a series of plans that help prepare us for different types of emergencies according to the specifics of our operation (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, 2016).
The idea for Environmental Farm Plans originated from the Ontario farm community. Farmers were involved in every stage of developing the original EFP through the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. The program continues to be delivered to the farm community by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association through funding provided by Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative, and with the provision of technical information being the responsibility of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition was led by four main organizations: Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, Farm and Food Care, and Ontario Farm Animal Council (Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association, 2017).
The goal of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is to help us see our farm in a new way. It asks us to think about our land, the buildings on our farm, the products we use, all from a new point of view. It asks us to rate how each of these things could affect the environment – the air, soil, wildlife, and water sources – around our farm. This is all accomplished through the EFP Workbook. The EFP Workbook has two parts – the Farm Review and the Action Plan.
In the Farm Review section, we will assess the soils on our farm and rate their ability to offset or increase potential risks to the environment. The Farm Review includes 23 Worksheets to help us rate different situations on our farm. From these ratings, we will develop an Action Plan.
As we work on our Action Plan, we will have to decide whether potential problems result from natural risks on our farm (e.g. soil type or depth to water table) or from the way we manage some part of our farm operations. We will have to think about what we need to do to solve these problems or control them, either right away or over the next few years (Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association, 2017).
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs. (2016, 01 04). Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan. Retrieved from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/efp/efp.htm
Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association. (2017, 08 17). EFP Emergency Plan. Retrieved from Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association: http://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/workshops-webinars/environmental-farm-plan/efp-emergency-plan/
Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association. (2017, 08 17). Environmental Farm Plan. Retrieved from Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association: http://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/workshops-webinars/environmental-farm-plan/
Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association. (2017, 08 17). Environmental Farm Plan Infosheets. Retrieved from Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association: http://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/workshops-webinars/environmental-farm-plan/infosheets/
Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association. (2017, 08 17). Get involved with the Environmental Farm Plan. Retrieved from Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association: http://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/workshops-webinars/environmental-farm-plan/get-involved-with-efp/