by Steve Brackenridge
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Canada finally has a road map for a more sustainable food system with the federal government’s unveiling of its Food Policy for Canada on June 17. This is good news for all Canadians, and the agri-food sector. The national policy’s broad vision sets out to ensure all Canadians have access to enough safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food, and that our food system is resilient and innovative to sustain the environment and support the economy.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has worked together with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) to develop a food strategy and has used that collaborative document to make recommendations on this policy. Although not as comprehensive as we had hoped, we are glad the new food policy has finally come to fruition.
The federal government consulted with more than 45,000 Canadians to develop the new food policy, resulting in an announced investment of $134 million to achieve the key objectives. OFA is pleased to see that some of the elements the agricultural industry has recommended have been included – addressing food access and affordability in rural and remote communities, developing local food infrastructure and promoting a Canada brand are initiatives that we can all agree on.
A central part of the policy calls for the creation of a Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council. This is a critical feature to drive the roll-out of the new policy and one that has been in discussion from the outset of developing strategies.
Ontario is blessed with a vibrant and diverse agri-food sector – but addressing the issues of food access and food security will be key to the success of the new policy. We will continue to advocate with government that an economically sound and sustainable agri-food industry is a prerequisite for delivering on food security for Canadians.
OFA and CFA have also identified food literacy as an important element in a food strategy – something that is not specifically addressed in the new policy. We have been raising awareness on the importance of food literacy through our Six by Sixteen program for the past several years, and will continue to remind all governments of the need to teach future consumers how to make healthy food choices and learn lifelong food skills.
The new Food Policy for Canada is good news and our agri-food sector is at the heart of this initiative. OFA looks forward to working with government and industry as this policy evolves and delivers economic growth, nutrition and food security for all Canadians.
Read the full Food Policy for Canada at https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2019/06/food-policy-for-canada–backgrounder.html.