Guest Blog from Ralph Martin,
Professor and Loblaw Chair, Sustainable Food Production
Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph
Consumers are increasingly asking for more information, not only about location of food production, but also about how food is grown on a given farm. It can be difficult for food processors and retailers to verify that food has been sustainably produced. However, farmers who are busy with current management details are not keen to add more record keeping and verification protocols to their to-do list. Nevertheless, many farmers in Ontario are already engaged in the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and there are opportunities for the EFP to help them show processors and retailers what they are doing. Although the EFP has not been audited by a third party, there are opportunities for it to be upgraded and audited for farmers that determine it will be cost effective for them to pay for such a service to establish market differentiation of their products. The EFP is well known and voluntarily applied on farms in Ontario, unlike more rigorous verification programs in other countries that have very low adoption rates.
For more details, see Potential Role of the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan in Responding to Sustainability Demands of the Agri-food Supply Chain, by Claudia Schmidt, Janalee Sweetland and Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre. [1.6 MB pdf]