OWEN SOUND – Liberals have committed to helping build a better farm economy – and a healthier nation - through a National Food Policy that supports healthy eating, safe food, sustainable farm incomes, environmental farmland stewardship and international leadership.
“This is also great news for family farms and the local food movement,” says Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound federal Liberal candidate Kimberley Love. “And what’s really exciting is that this is a policy that truly bridges the urban-rural divide – because it’s based on a commitment to support a healthier, local diet. So what’s good for our farmers is also good for all Canadians.”
“Canadian farmers produce the healthiest, safest, highest-quality foods in the world,” says Love, whose family has a long farming history in Grey County. “So let’s get the food from Canadian farmers onto Canadian tables. That’s the key objective of our National Food Policy. Why? Because our health and our economy depend on it. And I don’t mean just the rural economy; agriculture is a key economic driver in Canada.”
While farmers and our agri-food sector provide one out of every eight jobs and generate $42 billion in annual economic activity, the economic crisis has strained the pillar of our rural communities – our farms – to the breaking point.
During a recent visit to a farm in central Ontario, Michael Ignatieff pledged that a future Liberal government will implement a new National Food Policy focusing on:
Sustainable farm incomes, with a Clean Slate Commitment to build practical, bankable farm programs in partnership with farmers and restore AgriFlex to offer regionally flexible programs that help meet the costs of production;
Healthy living, including an $80-million Buy Local Fund to promote farmers markets and home-grown foods, a $40-million Healthy Start program to help 250,000 low-income children access healthy foods, introducing progressive health labelling and tough standards on trans fats, and launching a Healthy Choices program to help Canadians make informed eating decisions;
Safe Food, by implementing the Weatherill report recommendations and investing $50 million in improving food inspections and ensuring imported foods meet our tough domestic standards;
Environmental farmland stewardship, by strengthening Environmental Farm Plans, improving fertilizer and pesticide management, and rewarding farmers for their role in clean energy production and protecting wildlife habitat; and
International leadership, to promote Canadian food internationally and expand Canada’s share of high-value export markets while also fostering food security in Africa and the world’s poorest nations.
“We spent a lot of time talking about this in Ottawa in the past few months,” says Love. “Michael Ignatieff shared our view that we should build programs from the farm up… not from Ottawa down. We’re committed to building practical, bankable, regionally-flexible programs that work for farmers.”
“We’ve taken some heat for saying we’ll cancel corporate tax cuts,” says Love. “But we’re already among the most competitive in the G7. The Liberals want to take that $5 billion to $6 billion per year and focus on paying down the deficit and investing in priorities like a National Food Policy – that actually support Canadian families and protect their future.”
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