BC Food Systems Network policy submission
September 12, 2012 By Press release
September 12, 2012, Vancouver, BC – As Farmers’ Appreciation Week kicks off across British Columbia, the BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN) is finalizing recommendations for improving food security in British Columbia, which is being sent to all provincial parties.
“It is our hope that provincial parties who are vying for public support in forming government will give serious consideration to our recommendations and incorporate them into their official party platforms” says Dayna Chapman, BCFSN board chair.
Food security is an urgent issue as BC has the highest rate of poverty and the highest level of inequality in the country. At the same time, food prices have risen sharply in recent years, increasing by more than twice as much in the past four years as in the previous four years.
In regards to food production in the province, although some of our larger export-oriented farms are very profitable, many other farms face financial challenges as evidenced by increasing farm debt and low profitability. In 2010, BC farmers had the lowest net income in Canada, and were the only farmers in Canada to face a five-year period of negative net farm income, continuing a 30-year trend of declining agricultural net incomes in BC.
In 2011, for the first time almost half of all farmer operators in Canada were over the age of 55 (48 per cent) and in BC the average age of farmer operators is higher than the national average. The future of food production in BC depends on more young people taking up farming and being able to earn a living at it.
Despite the financial difficulties faced by many farmers and an ageing farm population the provincial government invests less in agriculture than any other province in Canada, in terms of the sector’s GDP. In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture’s budget was 4.2 per cent of that sector’s GDP, compared to the national average of 11.3 per cent.
In order to achieve the goal of food security, government will need to allocate more revenue to across various ministries’ budgets for food policies, beginning with increasing the Ministry of Agriculture budget to the national average.
Funding should be re-allocated across several ministries, including health, education, environment, and social development, with a food security focus to expand existing programs and establish new, targeted, inter-ministerial food security programs.
“This will require a review of current policy, followed by strong action aimed at improving food security in terms of ensuring equitable access to food, strengthening local agriculture, ensuring sustainability and climate resiliency, and adopting a whole government approach” stated Abra Brynne a member of the BCFSN policy committee and currently working on the policy submission.
The British Columbia Food System Network (BCFSN) is comprised of farmers, food activists, health promoters, Indigenous peoples, academics, municipal workers, educators, labour unions, and others who are concerned about food security in BC.
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