At Grain Farmers of Ontario our goal is to provide our farmer-members the information and resources needed to continue to be economically sustainable while operating in a manner that meets their commitment to the environment and society.
In order to meet this goal, Grain Farmers of Ontario is engaged in a number of sustainability initiatives to ensure we remain a strong competitor in the global marketplace.
Current Sustainability Initiatives
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI)
The SAI Platform is the main food and drink industry initiative supporting the development of sustainable agriculture worldwide. SAI Platform is a global food industry initiative for sustainable agriculture that seeks involvement from all food chain stakeholders. The SAI Platform is based on four main pillars including sustainable farming practices, economy, social and environment. Through the SAI Platform a Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) tool has been developed.
Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) tool
The FSA is a questionnaire that allows farmers to assess and improve sustainable agriculture practices. Made up of 112 questions, farmers will answer the questionnaire based on their farm business and the practices they employ on the farm. Depending on the responses, farmers will be given a score of ‘not yet bronze’, ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ or ‘gold’. Depending on the market, some end users are looking for farmers to be within a certain range.
Field to Market Canada
In November of 2019, Field to Market Canada (formerly known as the Canadian Field Print Initiative), was launched. The launch of Field to Market Canada (the sister organization to Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture), offers the food and agricultural value chain a unified program to advance sustainability in North American commodity crop production. Through this expansion, stakeholders across the United States and Canada have access to a streamlined approach to conduct continuous improvement projects in both countries, strengthening the ability for companies to meet their sustainable sourcing objectives and science-based targets.
Field to Market Canada will leverage existing tools and metrics of the Canadian Field Print Initiative to ensure the program is tailored to locally relevant conditions and built upon prior technical investments from the Canadian agriculture sector.
Field to Market Canada will offer the same core mission and commitment to multi-stakeholder convening and collaboration. Various programs and protocols developed for the U.S. context will be made available through Field to Market Canada over the coming year.
The Field Print Calculator is an easy-to-use, farm-level measurement tool that allows growers to confidentially assess and document their environmental performance.
The calculator is an Excel-based tool that requires basic information on farming practices, soils, and climate to model a crop’s estimated sustainability based on four indicators: Land Use Efficiency, Energy Use, Climate Impact, and Soil Erosion Risk.
Farmers would input basic information based on farm practices and field operation including crop planted, acreage and yield, horsepower for equipment used on that field, hours spent on each fieldwork pass (cultivating, seeding, spraying, combining), and application rates for N, P, K and other fertilizers. It takes approximately 15 minutes to input data per field.
After inputting this information, a farmer would be provided with an output document to see their how they measure in areas of soil erosion, land use efficiency, energy use and climate impact.
For more information visit Field to Market Canada.
4R Nutrient Stewardship Strategy
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification was developed as part of a voluntary initiative to improve the watershed conditions of the Western Lake Erie Basin and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by optimizing crop nutrient uptake and reducing nutrient losses. The certification focuses on agri-retailers, farmers and agronomists working to each optimal nutrient use efficiency following: the right source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.
For more information visit Fertilizer Canada’s page on 4R.
Sustainable Canadian Soy program
The Sustainable Canadian Soy program is a voluntary stewardship program that will drive new market opportunities, ensure continued access to premium markets, and enhance the sustainability of Canadian farms and the soybean value chain. The elements of the program include land use efficiency, climate-smart farming, soil health, water stewardship, biodiversity and habitat.
This is a voluntary, market-driven program that will ensure continued access to premium markets as well as create new market opportunities for the soybean value chain. Customers of Canadian value-added soybeans have asked for a verifiable sustainability program, and Sustainable Canadian Soy will enable Canada’s soybean industry to compete for market share on an international level. The program will also help farmers assess their soybean production methods and encourage further adoption of sustainable farming practices.
Sustainable Canadian Soy utilizes the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA), a globally recognized whole farm sustainability benchmarking and assessment program and will be managed by participating Canadian grain exporters and handlers who serve customers who are asking for sustainability verification.
For more information about the new Sustainable Canadian Soy program, visit soycanada.ca/sustainability.