It is alarming that in this election no one is talking about food sovereignty and security. It should be right up there beside health care because access to affordable, safe, nutritious food can save many health care dollars. According to my cowboy logic, if you eat steak you have a stake in it.
The $231 million dollars earmarked for the large packers as grants would be better to go to farmer organizations as a repayable loan to build regional packing plants. The loan would return to the taxpayer their dollars with interest, and would help a struggling manufacturing sector in Ontario that could retool to build parts required for a farmer-owned industry. This money would build 23 regional packing plants capable of processing 120 head per day in each facility. The plants would need to be on the New Generation Cooperative model.
This would put competition back into the marketplace and a fair price and rate of return on investment to farmers. The social, environmental and economic benefits would be by far greater than the benefit of lining the pocketbooks of the shareholders of the multinationals with taxpayer dollars.
It would revitalize rural Canada and reduce the strain on our environment caused by current agribusiness practices. And it would also encourage Canada’s next generation of farmers to continue in the footsteps of their families.
Canadians want local food. Canadians want food from Canadian family farms. We need to discard the failed agripolicies of the past two decades and invest in farmers and infrastructure required to meet the needs of Canadians.
When you read the platforms of the various parties, they fall short of where Canada needs to go in terms of food safety, security and sovereignty. Canada imports over 50 per cent of its meat, yet we are focusing on exports. If I were to use cowboy logic it would seem to me that we should focus on filling the domestic market before we worry about exporting.
Neil Peacock Sexsmith, Alta.
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