December 19, 2003
For immediate release
PEI Envy of Country When it Comes to EFP's
Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry
"We are the envy of the rest of the country," said Karen Murchison, who has been co-ordinator of the program since November of 2002. She said environmental farm plans are a major component of the Agricultural Policy Framework – the federal-provincial-territorial agreement designed to establish a long-term plan for the industry. She said the western provinces have little experience with such plans and "we are helping them to get established."
Murchison said having an environmental farm plan is now a requirement for taking part in virtually any provincial government program. As well, she said many financial institutions are also requesting such plans from their agricultural clients. In 1996, 75 producers participated in the program and participation has grown steadily since then. Since its inception, over 1,100 farms have participated in the ongoing series of workshops held across the province to promote and explain the initiative.
For the consumer, she said the plan offers the assurance a producer is carrying on business in a manner that ensures the product that ends up at the dinner table is produced in a manner that is both safe and environmentally friendly.
"It is something the marketplace is demanding," she said. The co-ordinator said, since both the environment and the agricultural industry are constantly changing, such plans will always be a work in progress. The Prince Edward Island group has worked with the Eastern Soil and Water Conservation Centre to develop an Atlantic environmental farm plan workbook. Murchison said each plan is tailored to the needs of the particular farm. The plan can address such topics as manure management, soil conservation, planting hedgerows, and fencing and watering to keep livestock out of streams.
She said consumers and the non-farming public are demanding environmentally friendly farming practices. Quite often, she said, some simple and relatively inexpensive things can be done to mitigate activities or practices that are a risk to the environment.
"We would certainly like to see every producer on Prince Edward Island have an environmental farm plan done for their operation," she said. "This is something that is going to be part of the business of agriculture for a long time to come."