With long highway closures in the winter as well as increasing awareness about carbon footprints and eating healthy, access to locally grown or produced food has been a topic of conversation in Revelstoke.
With that in mind, we asked each Kootenay-Columbia candidate what can the federal government do to strengthen local and regional food systems? How might you ensure the approach is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable?
Wayne Stetski, NDP
Ensuring every Canadian has access to healthy, affordable, local food should be a national priority. Eating local food is good for the environment and good for our local economies. That’s why I championed a Private Member’s Bill to declare the Friday before Thanksgiving as National Local Food Day.
A nationally recognized day would have encouraged educators to incorporate local food into their lesson plans during the harvest season and Canadians to purchase local food for family gatherings. It received unanimous support in the House of Commons but unfortunately died in the Senate.
We must celebrate and support the farmers and other local food producers who put food on our table.
We must also ensure agriculture is a viable career option to raise a family on. That’s why I have spoken in Parliament about not continuing to make sacrifices on agriculture in trade agreements.
Food sovereignty is critical to ensuring environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable food systems in Canada.
The way we grow crops, raise livestock, and use food also has an impact on our climate future – and nutrition for all Canadians. A New Democrat government would connect communities to farmers through local food hubs and develop a national food waste strategy to reduce the huge amounts of food that currently go to waste in Canada.
We would also partner with farmers and communities to support biodiversity and to monitor and protect pollinator health.
Abra Brynne, Green Party
As a food security consultant and project manager who has worked closely with farmers across Kootenay-Columbia for more than 20 years, I know that the hard economics of farming get easier when local farms, markets, and grocers become the go-to place for fruit and vegetables, eggs, cheese and meat.
Community-based agriculture is good for our health, our economy and our environment. Regional food systems can better reflect our priorities and values—social, ecological and economic. Sustainable food production means food security now, and for future generations.
As your Green Party MP, I will work hard on the following initiatives that support local agriculture.
Invest $2.5 million annually into land trusts and apprenticeship programs to expand local agriculture and help new farmers.
Fund research for transition from conventional to more sustainable farming systems and extend support to farmers making the shift.
Protect the right of farmers to save their own seeds. Promote heritage seed banks and seed exchange programs.
Set a target to replace a third of Canada’s food imports with domestic production, which will increase local food security and return $15 billion food dollars back to our economy.
Re-establish the infrastructure for local food production in canneries, slaughterhouses and value-added food processing.
Reinstate the Canada Land Inventory program.
Create incentives for other levels of government to preserve farmlands under their jurisdictions.
Renew the national Environmental Farm Plan Program. Help farmers protect wildlife habitat, maintain healthy water resources, improve soil quality, increase carbon sequestration and decrease water consumption.
Restructure Canada’s Business Risk Management Programs to help farmers cope with climate risk, with the focus on disaster assistance.
Work to change the practice of purchase contracts that prevent farmers from fixing their own equipment.
Rick Stewart, People’s Party of Canada
Most of the regulations governing regional food production fall under the purview of provincial and local government regulation, as do the rules for individual community markets. From the federal perspective I do fully understand and support the importance of high quality local food production.
As your PPC (People’s Party of Canada) MP, I will always stand for local food production and work against legislation that imposes unfair restrictions on locally grown and small-scale food producers in favor of big industry.
We are the only party that will phase out the Supply Management System to allow the opportunity for local production and sale of eggs, milk, cheese and poultry while saving Canadian consumers $3.6 billion a year.
The PPC also believes that lower taxes (check out our platform) and greater prosperity for all Canadians will lead to increased demand for high quality locally produced foods and greater certainty for those that produce them.
Trev Miller, Animal Protection Party
The major way we’re going to be able to possibly stave off the final impending mass extinction is through a re-examination of the 56 billion land animals and estimated one trillion sea animals that are farmed each year to support a growing human population.
It takes at least 18 kg of feed, 4,000 litres of water, and 77 square-feet of cropland to produce one kilogram of beef. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation worldwide combined — our planet will die unless we quickly replace meat products with vegetables and plant-centred alternatives. A plant-based meal requires 96 per cent fewer resources than one including animal products and that’s a huge win for the environment.
The Animal Protection Party of Canada will support local farmers who are poised to take over the grain and pulse market as demand for new plant-centred products are skyrocketing worldwide due to their severely-reduced environmental impact.
Robin Goldsbury, Liberal Party
Support for our local agricultural sector is essential. Ensuring infrastructure for irrigation and auxiliary services like abattoirs are kept up and improved.
It’s important that the federal dollars for local infrastructure initiatives are pursued and made available to our agricultural sector. Supporting farmers’ markets is important. Working on freeing up industry regulation so restaurants and other food providers have access to local markets. Succession of agricultural businesses are important.
We also need to look at protecting farmers more with better financing options and insurance options.
Rob Morrison, Conservative Party
The government must provide leadership in this area and work with our farming families and producers on succession planning. Many of our farming families are looking to retire and it is very cost prohibitive to pass their family farm on to the next generation. I look forward to listening to the experts on these issues and work within government to create a path forward that will benefit Kootenay-Columbia.