Sep 11 2012
Posted by CHLY News as BC, Campbell River, Chemainus, Courtenay / Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Gabriola Island, Lake Cowichan, Local Food, Nanaimo, News & Updates, Parksville, Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, Victoria |
For Immediate Release
BC Food Systems Network Policy Submission
Vancouver, BC September 10th – As Farmers’ Appreciation Week kicks off across the province, 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 4 years as in the previous 4 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 5-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%) 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 aging 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% of that sector’s GDP, compared to the national average of 11.3%.
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. To find out more visit www.fooddemocracy.org.