Local agriculture vital to our future

At a recent breakfast seminar, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a session with Dr. David Kohl, one of the world’s foremost agricultural economists.
He confirmed the future will bring opportunities based on six major concerns for safety, nutrition, homeland food security, energy conservation, and the environment.
Our biggest agricultural supplier, the United States, currently is re-drafting its Farm Bill. As the Americans also are our biggest competitors, the results will directly affect our own farmers.
American farmers are enjoying their three best years of income while Canadian farmers are suffering from the three worst ones.
The U.S. agri-business is heavily subsidized, as is Europe, and indeed most of the rest of the world. And it is anticipated much of the future trade will be within trading blocks.
A new Asian group with more than three billion in population is being formed. Compare this to North America, with 430 million people, or the European Union, with 460 million people.
International competition will have dramatic impacts on Canadian farm and agri-food policy.
To our advantage, Canadians have a global perspective that is evidenced by our product identity. In spite of recent challenges, Canadian beef still is recognized for its quality.
When I speak to our farmers, they tell me clearly that Canada’s policies should be based on a simple rule: foreign importers must follow the same rules as Canadian farmers.
This is reasonable and fair.
We all benefit from having stable farm economies. Urban-dwellers who have never been to a farm can eat well knowing that by supporting Canadian farmers, we secure our own future.
We have to prepare ourselves for the possibility of a recession in the United States and its affect on our economy.
Even the change of land use in the U.S. away from agriculture (having lost half of their agricultural uses in 25 years) affects not only production, but also the demand for critical inputs like water.
We must shape our agricultural policies to support not only supply management, but also markets such as organics and value-added products like pumpkins and strawberries.
In addition, we must commit to local products to keep our local agriculture producers viable and ensure the future control of our food safety and supply.
The independent family farm remains the backbone of a strong agricultural nation and needs our continued support. Please think locally every time you shop to feed yourself and your family.

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