Overview

Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs) are voluntarily prepared assessments by farm families to increase their environmental awareness in up to 23 different areas on their farm. Through the EFP process, farmers highlight their farm's environmental strengths, identify areas of environmental concern and set realistic action plans with timetables to improve environmental conditions. Environmental cost-share programs are available to assist in implementing projects.

Visit the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) for more information.

The Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition was led by agricultural organizations including:

The EFP is delivered locally by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

The EFP is funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

With over 40,000 participants since the program began in 1993, this internationally recognized program has been very successful in helping Ontario farmers adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.

Farmers are encouraged to participate in the EFP to increase their awareness and knowledge, build competitiveness and strengthen the agricultural sector.

How to complete an EFP

You can complete an EFP by:

  • attending an in-person, two-day workshop (this option is recommended for first-time participants or if it has been a long time since you participated)
  • attending an in-person, 1-day renewal workshop (this option is only available if you are looking to update a 3rd or 4th edition EFP and you have your previously reviewed workbook)
  • completing an electronic EFP, using the self-directed electronic format (this option is available for anyone looking to update their existing EFP workbook, but is not a replacement for the in-person, two-day workshop if you have not participated in this previously)

Each step of the EFP process is voluntary. You may proceed as far as you wish.

Step 1 - attend an EFP workshop

Attend an EFP workshop scheduled for your area. You will be provided with an EFP workbook containing the EFP worksheets, instructions and help on how to progress through the risk assessment and action plan development contained in the fourth edition EFP workbook.

Workshops are organized and delivered locally by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Check the OSCIA website for specific dates and locations in your county/district or contact OSCIA toll-free at 1-800-265-9751 for more information. There is no charge for the workshop.

Complete the risk assessment

The EFP risk assessment gives you the opportunity to rate your current level of environmental concern in various areas on your farm such as water wells, fuel storage, soil management and pest management as presented in the EFP Workbook. The worksheets are easy to follow and highlight environmental strengths and concerns on your farm.

Each worksheet is set up in a similar manner and have an average of 20 questions. Only complete the worksheets and questions that apply to your farm situation.

Develop an action plan

When the worksheets are completed, your ratings will show areas of your farm that would benefit from changes to reduce potential environmental risk. The development of an action plan will help you analyze the situation, decide what you can do and when it can be done. Infosheets for each worksheet and best management practices books are references available to help get ideas and establish priorities.

Step 2 - submit your EFP for review

Submit your EFP action plan through your OSCIA workshop leader for a confidential review. Once your action plan is reviewed and verified, you may be able to access cost-share funding to help cover a portion of the costs of implementing eligible projects from your action plan.

Step 3 - review your workbook and implement your action plan

Complete projects based on your priorities. Technical assistance is available from OMAFRA.

The workbook

The goal of the EFP workbook is to help you see your farm in a new way. It asks you to think about your land, the buildings on your farm, the products you use and many other things from an environmental point of view. It asks you to rate how each of these things could affect the air, soil, wildlife and water sources around your farm. It also asks you to consider new ways of working that will decrease the risks to our precious natural resources.

The EFP workbook is broken down into the farm review and the action plan.

In the farm review section, you will assess the soils on your farm and rate their ability to offset or increase potential risks to the environment. The farm review includes 23 worksheets to help you rate different situations on your farm. From these ratings you will develop an action plan.

As you work on your action plan, you will have to decide whether potential problems result from natural risks on your farm such or from the way you manage some part of your farm operations. You will have to think about what you need to do to solve or control these problems either right away or over the next few years.

The farm review and the action plan belong only to you. Your EFP will help you identify potential problems that may affect the environment and find solutions to reduce the risk.

Infosheets

22 of the 23 worksheets in the workbook have a corresponding infosheet. There is no infosheet for Worksheet #1 – Soil and Site Evaluation. These infosheets have been developed to provide you with more information to help you effectively complete your action plans for review.

Infosheets are structured like the EFP worksheets by dealing with each issue one question at a time.

Infosheets are:

  • a quick reference for information specific to the worksheet question
  • a short list of possible actions that will change your situation for the better
  • a list of some acceptable compensating factors that adequately address a situation without changing the rating you specified in the workbook
  • a good benchmark to see how your proposed solutions measure up

Infosheets are not:

  • the only solution, since other solutions may have become available
  • the last word on an issue, since some issues are complex and more technical information may be required from other sources