Originally posted by Food Secure Canada, Dec. 13, 2017. Read the full article here.
On December 11, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food released its report on A Food Policy for Canada, following several months of witness testimony and submissions from a variety of stakeholders, including Food Secure Canada and several of its member organizations. While the policy itself is still in development and is expected to be announced in the spring, this report lends Parliamentary weight to many of Food Secure Canada’s key ideas.
In Food Secure Canada’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, Executive Director Diana Bronson highlighted six key priorities stemming from our Five Big Ideas for a Better Food System:
Recognition of the right to food as a guiding principle
Support for a new relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples through food
Prioritization of children and youth, including the development of a national healthy school food program
Support for the next generation of farmers and promotion of a diversity of farming practices
Establishment of a National Food Policy Council
Support for social innovation on equal footing with technological innovation
Most significant is the recommendation to put the right to food for all Canadians at the heart of the new food policy. As noted in the report, “a number of witnesses said that the first component that should be included in a food policy is official recognition of the right to food.” Many of us were discouraged to see the dismissive reaction of the federal government to the 2012 UN Mission on the Right to Food, so it is encouraging that a human-rights approach to important policy issues is back on the table. The recently announced federal housing strategy embraces the right to housing which gives us hope the food policy will embrace the right to food.
Governance Is Critical
Food Secure Canada also identified governance as a critical issue for food policy success, knowing that not all the complex and systemic issues could be tackled in such a short time frame. Civil society has long been excluded from food policy-making in Canada, and we need a more transparent and participatory mechanism to be put in place. The Committee’s final recommendation to “establish a national food policy advisory body consisting of the key government departments, the agriculture and agri-food sector, academia, Indigenous peoples and civil society” is a significant step forward on this longstanding priority of Food Secure Canada. Many of our academic, industry and civil society partners also raised this as a preoccupation during the Committee hearings. It’s nice to see that Parliamentarians agree!
Support for Sustainable Agriculture
Other encouraging recommendations include support for organics and strengthening regional food systems. Food Secure Canada is particularly pleased to see the Committee recognize the necessity of increasing supports for new farmers – an issue we, along with new farmers groups from across the country, have long advocated for (See our 2016 Brief on Farm Renewal). In addition, the committee’s recommendation to “invest in community-level action in the areas of innovative agriculture initiatives, food security, food literacy, and food loss and waste” speaks to the importance of social innovation alongside technological innovation, something Food Secure Canada has championed in its call for a $65-million Social Innovation in Food Fund as part of A Food Policy for Canada.
To read the rest of the article, including the Less Positive Recommendations in the report, please visit the original post on Food Secure Canada’s website.