Last night Chef Jamie Kennedy and Joe Virgona hosted a local food dinner where the message was loud and clear – we can only feed our communities if we champion our family farms.
The Green Party’s platform is simple and straightforward and it’s addressing an issue that cannot be ignored.
Here they lay out their plan to ensure that everyone in Ontario has better food and better food knowledge.
Our communities benefit from thriving farms that provide fresh and healthy local food. The food sector is the second largest employer in Ontario, and profitable farms and agricultural businesses are the backbone of a prosperous rural economy and essential to feeding Ontario.
Our food system is experiencing significant challenges. Farm incomes are variable and negative for most sectors, food bank use is at an all-time high, and poor diets are contributing to rising health care costs. The number of farmers is declining, the age of farmers is rising and fewer youth are growing food. Ontario only has 7,000 farmers under the age of 35. We are losing too much farm land to urban sprawl. It’s time to make strengthening our food system a priority so that Ontario can feed itself and others.
Food connects us all. Green MPPs will advocate for a comprehensive Ontario Food and Farming Strategy that provides access to healthy food from Ontario’s farms. This begins with ensuring that our farmers and food processors have a stable, reliable income. It’s time to make healthy local food a priority.
Your Green MPPs will:
1. Provide access to healthy food for Ontarians
a. Coordinate a comprehensive healthy school food program
b. Invest in community food programs that promote access to healthy food, community gardens, cooking and nutrition classes; provide tax credits for farmers and processors who donate to food security organizations
c. Set measurable Ontario food purchasing targets for all public institutions
2. Promote programs to support financially sustainable local food systems
a. Establish an Ontario Food and Farming Policy Council to coordinate planning across ministries and consult diverse stakeholders on programs, regulations and legislation
b. Reward farmers for stewardship practices that provide environmental and community benefits such as clean water, habitat preservation and carbon storage
c. Invest in rural infrastructure, research and innovation, plant-based manufacturing products, distribution hubs, farmer co-ops, organic and specialty crops to support farm incomes
3. Remove barriers to success for family farms and local food processors
a. End one-size-fits-all regulations for family farms and local food processors; implement smart regulations that recognize differences in the size of operations
b. Eliminate tax penalties and reduce zoning restrictions to facilitate local, on-farm food enterprises and innovative sources of farm income
c. Improve income stabilization programs so they are more accessible for family farms, cover a wider range of products and don’t penalize farmers who experience bad years
For more information on the Green Party’s food and farming plan for Ontario, find more information here, http://gpo.ca/issues