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Stewardship program ending

Federal funding for the Farm Stewardship Program is slated to end on March 31, 2013. In most provinces, there’s still time to find out if this program has anything to offer your farm.

The Farm Stewardship Program has been in place since 2005, as a federal program delivered by provincial counterparts.

The program is slightly different in each province. In Manitoba, it’s found in the Environmental Farm Action Plan. In Saskatchewan, it’s called the Canada-Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Program. In Alberta, this is the Growing Forward — Stewardship Plans Program.

Although there are differences in how the program is administered in each of the Prairie provinces, the basics are the same. The Farm Stewardship Program provides financial assistance for farmers implementing management practices that will benefit, protect or improve the environment.

A number of projects are eligible for funding, ranging from relocating livestock confinement facilities to buying on-farm fuel storage or some types of variable rate technology. The program categorizes projects as “beneficial management practices.” Farmers can receive funding for 50 per cent of expenses for some beneficial management practices; others are funded at a lesser rate. Farmers can apply for funding for more than one project, but the maximum funding available is $50,000 per farm.

The first step to applying for program funding is completing an environmental farm plan. Program representatives will help with plan preparation and hold workshops to make completion easier. Once you submit your plan and program staff deem it complete, you’ll be eligible to apply for funding. Provincial representatives will help with applications.

Deadlines differ by province. In Alberta, applications are still being accepted, but 2012 approved projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. The program website provides a self-assessment tool — an online questionnaire that may point you to areas where Growing Forward programs could benefit your farm. The information is online at www.growingforward.alberta.ca, or 310-farm (3276).

The Manitoba program application deadline was February 15, 2012. However, if additional funds become available, applications will be accepted in the fall. More information is online at www.manitoba.ca/agriculture or 1-866-626-4862.

Saskatchewan is still accepting applications, however, projects must be completed by December 31, 2012. Applications for projects in some categories must be submitted by June 30, 2012. Details can be found at www.saskpcab.com, or by calling 1-866-298-7222.

As environmental issues continue to be a key concern, it is quite possible that this program may be replaced by something similar, or even better, however, if you’re already considering an environmentally beneficial investment, such as purchasing a liquid fertilizer tank with secondary containment, taking time to look at a website or call a number may pay off. †

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