Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation announces $1.4 million environmental farm practices grant

October 3, 2006 (Toronto) - The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation announces a $1.4 million grant to help farmers with their costs to improve the environmental practices on their land. This money will be used to clean up water, protect wildlife and reduce pesticides.

"This Thanksgiving we are celebrating the harvest by helping those who produce our healthy feast. Farmers supply us with fresh, local foods and care for our natural environment," said Burkhard Mausberg, president of the Foundation. "Farmers are the stewards of the living countryside. Their care of the land is important to the Greenbelt and to residents in the Golden Horseshoe."

The Environmental Farm Plan and related incentive programs such as the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program provide incentives to farmers for the costs of on-farm environmental projects. The Greenbelt funding increases the total cost-share rate available to Greenbelt-area farmers to as much as 75 percent of eligible costs.

For example, Doug and Karen Whitty, owners of the Whitty Farm located in the Greenbelt near St. Catharines, have introduced new farming practices that improve the quality of their land and the food they produce. Under the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program, the Whitty's have modified their spraying equipment to reduce the amount of pesticides they use.

"Farmers have always had to be careful stewards of their land," Whitty said. "It would have been very difficult for us to have undertaken the costs of environmental improvements to our farm without the support of the program. Now, with the additional Greenbelt Foundation funding, we can do more."

"We are pleased that the Greenbelt Foundation is recognizing the importance of the Environment Farm Plan by generously supporting the actions of farmers," said Keith Black, President of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, responsible for delivering the EFP in Ontario on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. "For example, protecting the quality of source water by erecting fences around ponds and along stream banks takes land out of grazing or food production, and is an added expense to farmers."

The Environmental Farm Plan has been helping farmers adopt environmentally sound practices for 13 years. With the additional funding from the Greenbelt Foundation, up to 1000 farmers across the Greenbelt will participate, ensuring that tens of thousands of acres of land undergo environmental improvements. Twenty-two categories of beneficial management practices qualify for the increased Greenbelt Foundation funding including the improved pest management, improved product and waste management, and nutrient recovery from waste water.

"The Foundation is contributing to a well-respected program that is run by farmers," said Hugh Mitchell. "There is a tremendous advantage to society when farmers undertake environmental practices. We have undertaken two practices to date and plan to do more with this increased funding."

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation began its work in June 2005 as a charitable foundation with a mandate to fund organizations promoting farming, the environment and rural communities located in Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The Greenbelt includes the Niagara Escarpment, Oak Ridges Moraine and Rouge Park. It is an area of more than 1.8 million acres of permanently protected farmland, green space, and vibrant communities. There are over 1.8 million acres (730,000 hectares) in the Greenbelt, which makes it larger than Prince Edward Island. The Greenbelt surrounds the province's Golden Horseshoe and is vital to the quality of life in southern Ontario.

Additional Information:
Burkhard Mausberg, Greenbelt Foundation, 416-960-0001, bmausberg -at- ourgreenbelt.ca

Diana Crosbie, Crosbie Communications, 416-360-6625, diana -at- crosbie.on.ca 
Andy Graham, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, 519-826-4216, andrew.graham -at- ontariosoilcrop.org

For the Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program brochure click here. It is also available on the OSCIA website atwww.ontariosoilcrop.org.

Partners in Agricultural Environment Programs

The Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program is an environmental cost-share opportunity for farmers in the Greenbelt, delivered in collaboration with programs available through the environment programs of the federal-provincial-territorial Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) initiative. The APF is a comprehensive strategy that aims to position Canada as the world leader in food safety, innovation and environmentally responsible agricultural production. Funding for the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan and other APF environment programs is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Agricultural support for the programs is led by the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. Local delivery of the programs is carried out by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

Environmental Programs offered under the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF):

- Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan is a voluntary educational program for farm families delivered through local workshops. Participants are provided instruction on how to progress through the Risk Assessment and Action Plan development contained in the Third Edition EFP workbook. The Risk Assessment gives the opportunity to rate the current level of environmental concern in up to 23 different areas on the farm.

- Greenbelt Farm Stewardship Program is an exciting partnership involving the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation farm organizations, and federal and provincial governments to encourage producers to adopt practices that improve the productivity of their operations while protecting and restoring the Greenbelt, by reducing the impacts to the air and water quality and wildlife habitat.

- Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program is a voluntary cost-share program to encourage producers to improve management of agricultural land through the adoption of beneficial management practices (BMP) to reduce risk to water and air quality, improve soil productivity and enhance wildlife habitat.

- Greencover Canada is an initiative to help producers improve land management practices, promote sustainable land use, protect water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

- Canada-Ontario Water Supply Expansion Program Tier 1 is a voluntary cost-share program to develop, enhance and protect vital water resources to help address water constraints in agricultural areas of Canada.

- Oak Ridge Moraine Environmental Enhancement Program is an innovative partnership between the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, conservation groups, federal and provincial governments and farm organizations to encourage stewardship of farmland on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

For more information on these programs contact the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

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