CleanFARMS means a Cleaner Environment
Farmers in the Maritimes are leading the agricultural sector in collecting and disposing of obsolete farm chemicals, livestock medications, and seed bags in a safe manner. The CleanFARMS program was created in 1998 to develop and promote work that had first started in the Maritimes in the early 1980’s. This voluntary program was once sponsored with public funding, but now is paid for by the agricultural industry.
Households around PEI use hazardous materials on a regular basis. Many of us are still learning how to sort and dispose of household cleaners, batteries, and other products that are part of our lives. Farmers are also becoming more conscientious of the materials that they use in farming, and a great deal of effort goes into collecting and recycling products and containers that require special attention.
In 2014, 33,000 kg. of empty fertilizer and pesticide containers were returned on PEI, with an industry leading 70% participation rate, and climbing. Across Canada 4.5 million kg. of similar containers were collected by the CleanFARMS program. Also in 2014, 350 kg. of obsolete (unwanted or unused) livestock medicines were collected and properly disposed of on PEI.
Plastic containers are cleaned and recycled into field tile. Bags are incinerated in Charlottetown in extreme temperatures to destroy trace amounts of product.
“This is a voluntary program, and we are glad to have such a high participation rate, with more farmers joining the movement every year” says David Thompson, who has been working with farmers and industry for many years. “It takes a considerable amount of effort to store and then transport these items back to the dealers, who collect them for proper disposal. It really shows that farmers are putting in a lot of effort to do the right thing.”
The CleanFARMS program is but one example of the effort that farmers are taking to make their operations more sustainable, more in tune with our environment.
This column is presented by the Kensington North Watersheds Association and the East Prince Agri-Environment Association to inform our communities of the ongoing efforts farmers are taking toward good environmental stewardship.