Benchmarking Provincial Environmental Farm Plans to International Standards

Clients: Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Alberta Research and Extension Association

Expertise Applied:

  • Qualitative analysis of on-farm sustainability standards

  • In-depth understanding of regional and international on-farm sustainability standards

  • Research and insights

Sustainability is of critical importance to the global farm and food sector. As the growing population’s need for food, fibre, and fuel continues to put pressure on a shrinking agricultural land base, farmers will need to continuously adapt and improve their management practices. Sustainable agricultural practices can help alleviate this pressure. To help encourage adoption of such practices, tools and on-farm assessments have been developed and implemented in local, national, and international contexts. The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is a tool created and run by the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative (SAI) Platform. FSA is used by stakeholders throughout the agri-food value chain, with food and drink companies using it for sustainable sourcing, and farmers using it to assess their on-farm practices for sustainability. FSA is a global sustainability scoring mechanism which allows different stakeholders to compare their respective standards and measures to those of other countries or regions. In essence it allows farms, for example, to see how they compare to similar farms around the world. FSA is quickly becoming the standard that is recognized by leading companies within the global food system.

We worked with the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) as well as the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) to benchmark their Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs) to the FSA tool. Preliminary results revealed that both provincial environmental farm plans scored well against the FSA.

Now more than ever, it is important to continue the efforts to align provincial and territorial standards with one another, and importantly, with international standards to realize the full market potential for Canadian farmers.

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