Environmental Farm Plan (EFP)
What is an EFP?
The EFP Program encourages the adoption of beneficial management practices that enhance soil, water and air quality, as well as biodiversity, all of which contribute to the sustainability of agriculture.
The Agriculture Alliance of New Brunswick is delivering the EFP program in New Brunswick and encourages every producer to develop an EFP. The EFP Program is funded under Growing Forward, a federal, provincial and territorial agreement on agriculture and agri-food policy.
Preparing an EFP
Step 1: Individual preparatory session
A facilitator provides a workbook, in digital or binder form, whichever you prefer. There is no charge for the workbook. The facilitator introduces you to the workbook and helps you begin a soil and site assessment of your operation, while completing maps and tables.
The workbook was revised significantly in 2004 and is designed to help you see your operation in a new way. It will help you assess how your buildings, products, and practices may impact the soil, water, air and biodiversity in the environment around your farm. It will help you consider steps that you can take to reduce any potential risks.
The workbook is divided into seven sections: Introduction, Farmstead and Homestead, Livestock Operations, Soil and Crop, Ecological Resources, Acts and Regulations, Conversion Table and Glossary, and Action Plan. These sections are divided into 22 subsections and contain the risk assessment questions that help you evaluate your farm. You complete only those subsections that relate to your operation.
Each sub-section provides information on five topics that you need to be aware of as you complete your assessment. They are soil health, water quality, air quality, biodiversity and profitability.
Step 2: Farm self-assessment
Individually or with the assistance of a coordinator you complete the questions in the workbook that apply to your operation and begin to consider different solutions for potential risks that you have identified. While undertaking this self-assessment process, you begin to prepare your action plan. Preparing your action plan will help you consider beneficial management practices (BMPs) that will help you farm in a more sustainable manner. As you work on your action plan, you will have to decide whether potential problems result from natural risks on your farm (e.g. soil type or depth of the water table) or from the way you manage your farm operation. You will need to determine what you can do to solve these problems or reduce their impacts, either immediately or over the following years.
You set the schedule that you will follow to make changes in your operations. The schedule can be changed as circumstances change.
Step 3: Submitting your EFP for review by a third party
You are encouraged to submit your plan for review to the Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre. This allows you to receive a certificate for your farm and become eligible for programs which can assist you financially in implementing your action plan.
Step 4: Implementation
You begin implementing your action plan on a schedule determined by you.
Step 5: Updating the plan
EFPs are “living documents” and should be updated every five years or maybe sooner to integrate new developments (e.g. construction of a new barn) or technologies, or to make adjustments as conditions change in your enterprise.
Steps to Complete an EFP
This explains the recommended procedure for completely redoing a 2004 edition Environmental Farm Plan for New Brunswick.
- Review the actions and check off actions which have been completed. You can also write the year the action was completed. Note that there is no reserved space in the workbook for this, so you have to squeeze this in on the edges of the page, for example, add a check mark for “complete” on the left, and year completed on the right.
- Go to tables – Farmstead first: Add any new buildings or sites and modify distances if something has changed (for example a new well nearby, or a fuel tank moved).
- Add new or proposed buildings to farmstead sketch. Remove dismantled buildings; identify decommissioned wells.
- Field table: add new fields along with the relevant information. Cross off fields lost to the farm (X in front in case it is not permanent).
- Add maps for new fields.
- Re-evaluate: Go through the complete evaluation, question by question, to ensure the rating is still the same. Change it if not.
- Actions: If the risk rating is 1 or 2, no need for an action. If risk is 3 or 4, see below.
- If the new rating drops to high risk, decide on an action and timeline.
- If there is an action, and it hasn’t been completed:
- Determine if it is still a suitable action,
- Review the timeline and modify if necessary,
- If the action is not possible or very long term, indicate the barrier,
- Describe the mitigation (compensating actions or situation) if there is barrier,
- Add supplementary or short term actions where appropriate.
- If an action was completed, but the risk is still 3 or 4, consider additional action that could be taken, or else indicate the barrier and describe any mitigating conditions.
- Update the Farm Information Sheet.
Note 1: Indicate revised and/or new actions with a circled “R” to the left of it so that the third party reviewers easily recognize a change.
Note 2: Rather than erasing an action that was previously planned (and that the Centre has in the database), put an “X” to the left of action, cross out the year and indicate the barrier.
Similar to above, but there are some particularities, so a separate procedure follows:
- Review the action plan, but don’t check off completed actions at this point. The action plan can be viewed from the pdf file (preferable) or viewed within the EFP software (while in part 3 of the program, click “Action Plan” on the top menu bar). It will be helpful to either keep the action plan open in another window, or use a printed version of the action plan so you will know which questions are answered under which sites. Otherwise you could miss actions, for example those entered under field Z.
- Go to part 2 of the main menu (modify an existing farm information sheet).
- Verify the contact information and farm commodity numbers and revise if needed.
- Review and revise the tables as listed above. Take precaution if you wish to delete any sites since there may be actions indicated for that site. The software is not programmed to tell you there is information attached to that site. If the building you wish to delete is the first site you may lose much of your action plan information () since the evaluation is often done under the first site,
- Modify drawings or maps and/or insert new maps.
- Since it takes too long to check off the completed actions on a separate run, do it at the same time as the re-evaluation is completed. I suggest using the “end” box for the year action is completed. (When initially filling in planned actions I now normally don’t bother entering the end date, only the expected start date.)
- Re-evaluate and add/modify actions as detailed in points 6 and 7 for paper version. You can add an “X-” in front of any obsolete action, and “R-” in front of any modified/new action. More than two lines in the action box will show on the `printed’ action plan but the font gets smaller, so try to keep it brief. The software’s display is somewhat troublesome as well – while typing you often only see the first two lines.
And that’s it. Submit to the Third Party Reviewers, indicating that it is an update (complete redo), and the farmer will receive a new certificate with the mention “U” (for updated) in the EFP number. Partial revisions are indicated with an “R” (for revised) after the EFP number. A “U” certificate will reset the date recorded for a completed EFP, which may come into play in future program eligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the objective of EFPs?
2. Who should do an EFP?
3. Do I need to be a member to get an EFP?
4. Why is it important to have an EFP?
For your family and workers:
Ensure their health and safety by identifying and addressing environmental risks on the farm.
For your business:
Prepare for the future viability of your business.
A growing number of your customers want to know that their food is being produced in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Reducing environmental risks can reduce the costs of production, increasing your farm’s productivity.
It costs less to prevent environmental problems than to correct them.
With an Environmental Farm Plan, you eligible for federal and provincial funding and technical assistance to help you address risks and/or increase benefits from the environment.
For your industry
Show the public that environment matters in agriculture and that you are actively involved in adopting environmentally sustainable practices.
5. How did the EFP originate?
6. Who will have my information?
Trained coordinators, employed by the Agricultural Alliance of NB, facilitate workshops and individual sessions to provide assistance to help you complete your plan. They do not keep copies of finished plans.
You are encouraged to have a third-party review of your plan. This step is optional, but necessary to obtain a certificate. To qualify for financial assistance, you must have a certificate and the actions to be implemented must be identified in your plan. In New Brunswick, third party reviews are carried out by the Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre (ECSWCC or commonly referred to as the “Centre”).
The coordinator can forward the plan to the “Centre” for you. Once a technical review is completed by a professional agrologist and validated, the EFP is returned to you with a certificate and action plan summary report. In some cases, the plan may be returned with a letter requesting more information.
This stage of the process usually takes about two weeks.
If you apply for financial assistance under the Environmentally Responsible Agriculture component of Growing Forward, the government administrator asks the “Centre’s” EFP coordinator to confirm that you have a valid action plan and that the project is part of that plan. This is the only instance where individual information is provided to government representatives.
When your plan is received at the “Centre”, the information is entered into a database and a client number is assigned to the file. Only two people have access to the password protected database. Copies of your farm information sheet, EFP certificate and action plan are filed only by client number.
The “Centre” may compile anonymous aggregate information to assist agro-environmental program evaluation and development.
7. What is the Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre (ECSWCC)?
The Centre’s board of directors is made up of farmers and other members of the agricultural community in Eastern Canada. The “Centre’s” staff are highly qualified agricultural professionals with expertise in soil erosion control, water issues related to agriculture and agro-environmental issues in general.
As a third party reviewer of individual environmental farm plans, the “Centre ” is responsible for ensuring that each plan has been completed thoroughly and objectively and that critical risks have been addressed. Reviewers try to ensure that the proposed actions are reasonable and improve the environment. This way the consistency and quality of the EFP in New Brunswick is ensured.
The “Centre” is located in Grand Falls, New Brunswick.
If you would like to know more about the confidentiality measures that are in place, please speak to a workshop coordinator or contact the “Centre” at:
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre
160 Reservoir Street
Grand Falls (NB) E3Y 3W3
Telephone: (506) 475-4040
Fax: (506) 475-4030