A wheat field

Farming is the Business of the Environment, and Here's Why

Farmers generally consider themselves to be stewards of the earth. Many farm practices are aimed at protecting the environment while at the same time allowing the farm to be profitable.

Environmental Farm Plans (EFP)

One tool which is effective at making significant environmental improvements in the agri-food sector is Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs). EFPs originated in Ontario but are now used across all provinces. An EFP is a self-assessment process carried out by farm businesses to increase environmental awareness and improve sustainability in up to 23 aspects of farms. The assessment measures strengths and weaknesses in the farm’s operations and then an action plan is developed to improve conditions and reduce risk to soil, water and air.70

EFPs Across Canada

In a 2011 survey by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, farmers said the following about EFPs:

  • 95 per cent impacted farm operations
  • 74 per cent improved soil quality
  • 71 per cent improved water quality
  • 63 per cent improved family health and safety
  • 48 per cent improved fish and wildlife habitat72

In 2011, 35 per cent of Canadian farms had a formal environmental farm plan (EFP).

Doing more with less

New varieties of crops, enhanced livestock nutrition, better equipment and improved techniques are allowing farmers to produce more with fewer resources. For example 50,000 fewer gallons of water are needed to grow an acre of corn today, compared to 20 years ago.78

50,000 fewer gallons of water are needed to grow an acre of corn today, compared to 20 years ago.

CleanFarms

Organizations like CleanFarms provide environmental stewardship in the realm of agriculture. This particular organization is funded by industry membership and aims to manage agricultural waste through the recycling of agricultural plastics and packaging.76 For example, CleanFARMS has worked with municipalities and agriculture retailers to collect empty fertilizer and pesticide containers and keep them out of landfills. The program began in 1989 and since then has collected more than 96 million empty containers.77