Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Marie Versteeg, CFFO Manager of Executive Board and Committees
August 31st is the last day to have your say on the development of the federal Food Policy for Canada. The Food Policy for Canada is a far-reaching initiative, with the power to affect our economy, environment, and social programs. It will set the national direction on issues like food safety, security, sustainability, affordability, and access. From your grocery bill to your compost pile, from city planning to health care dollars, this policy will affect every Canadian family and community.
Fortunately, right now Canadians can share their concerns through an online survey, found at www.canada.ca/food-policy.
Participants of the survey are asked to prioritize several potential objectives that the government has identified.
All these objectives are grouped under four major themes:
- increasing access to affordable food;
- improving health and food safety;
- conserving soil, water and air; and
- growing more high-quality food.
For example, under the theme “conserving our soil, water and air,” participants are asked to rank the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing food waste, conserving biodiversity, or improving product labelling for ethically-grown food. If you happen to rank two items as being very important, the survey asks you to choose which one requires short-term action.
It’s easy to see that every objective named in the survey is important. But it seems like the point of the survey is to uncover the issues that the most Canadians care the most about.
As you may suppose, different people will have different priorities.
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario encourages those working in primary agriculture to take the survey so that their concerns will be strongly represented in the survey’s final results.
There are two objectives that deserve to be ranked among Canada’s highest food policy priorities: preserving agricultural land for food production and supporting new farmers to help them establish successful farms.
These two objectives are tucked quietly beneath the broader theme of “growing more high-quality food.” But a successful national food policy hinges on first getting farmland—and farmer—preservation right.
In its response to the Food Policy for Canada, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario will remind government that if we’re going to ensure a secure, long-term, reliable and abundant food supply, we must protect and care for our productive farmland. And if we’re going to safeguard the ongoing success of our agri-food sector, we must ensure that farming resources are successfully passed from one generation of farmers to the next.
Disciplined and thoughtful Canadian policy will help to ensure that our resources are preserved. Fortunately, Canadians have the chance to shape the direction of that policy by participating in the survey.