Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Local Agriculture wins over Big Food

The United Nations Environment Programme says small farmers are the #1 method for fighting poverty.  Based on this, can the governments of Canada and Ontario, and the Chicken Mafia be more respectful and accommodating towards small flocker’s rights, and the benefits they can produce?

Julie Stauffer did an article on this UN report in the Jan-Feb 2014 issue of Small Farm Canada.  The focus of this UN report, Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment strongly recommends government support of small agriculture.

The UN report provides the statistical proof that a 1% increase in agricultural sector GDP is 5 times more effective at reducing poverty than that same GDP increase in any other sector of the nation’s economy.
The UN economists say the main reason that local agriculture works so well is because it reduces financial leakage.  Local farmers tend to buy local supplies, feed local people, use local services, and hire local people.  The money stays in the community, and goes round and round inside that community.  This local economy focus has been proven effective time and again, one of the most researched successes being the Worgl Experiment in 1922-23 with its use of local currency to further enhance the effect.

In contrast to local agriculture, big, monopolistic agriculture such as the Supply Management Mafia of today crushes the local people into economic slavery, using food as a weapon against the people.  The local people toil and scrape to earn enough to buy the food off the truck that was imported from far away.  Surrendering their hard earned money gets them enough food to live another day, enabling the repeating of this food slavery process again and again.  To maximize the food barons’ monopolistic profits, local expenditures are minimized.  That means the only local jobs are to get the food off the truck, protect it, and sell it; all for the benefit of the food barons.  The local poor stand helplessly and watch as their hard earned money leaves their community.  Their locally produced wealth is captured again and again, taken away as the delicious profits for far away food barons.

The advantages of local agriculture apply equally well to local or domestic manufacturing of cars, big screen TV’s, computers, customer service call centres, and so on.  Local food is orders of magnitude more important, as we must have food every day, while the loss of affordability for big screen TV’s is an inconvenience at worst.  The farther away the goods and services come from, the greater the negative effect on the local economy.  When you buy a cheap big screen TV that was made in China, remember that there are many costs and risks to your local, provincial, and national economy that are not included on the price tag for that cheap TV.  However, these non-agriculture issues will have to be someone else’s crusade on a different Blog.  Here, we focus on small flockers and local agriculture.

While the UN report is mainly focused on the third world and doesn’t specifically mention Canada, there are many neighbourhoods, regions and communities within Canada that live in third world poverty conditions.  If the report’s recommendations are valid for Africa, Asia, Central America, and elsewhere, why won’t their recommendations also work for Canada’s poorest regions, or its poorest people?

I have previously alerted you that 28.8% of Nunavut’s families in Canada’s far North are stuck with food prices higher than what they can afford (see Blog Posting The Chicken Mafia Exposed ).  Many First Nation reserves along the Southern border of Canada have between 33% to over 50% of their families that can’t afford the food they need to feed their families.  Ontario, as a have-not Province in Canada, is 11% worse off than the Canadian average of 7.6% food insecurity.

Council of Canadian Academies' report Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada:   An Assessment of the State of Knowledge finds that people in Nunavut have the highest food insecurity rate
small girl holding a sign at a protest in Nunavut about unaffordable food and food insecurity in June 2002
"I need milk", written in both English and Inuktitut,
during a June 2012 food affordability protest,
from CBC News report on Nunavut food insecurity. 
Obviously, it isn't just milk that is the problem.  She, and
thousands of others could benefit from affordable
dietary protein and fat, such as small flock poultry.
of 68%, higher than any other indigenous population in a developed country.  They also report that 35% of Inuit households in Nunavut do not have enough to eat, 76% of Inuit preschoolers skip meals, and 60% of children have gone a day without eating.

 The hardest hit are the pre-schoolers and their growing bodies.  For Inuit pre-schoolers:
  • 90% have gone hungry;
  • 76% had no food available for 1 or more meal times;
  • 70% don't know when they will get their next meal;
  • 70% live in food insecure households;
  • 60% have gone a full day without eating;
  • 31% are moderately food insecure;
  • 25% are severely food insecure.
While Nunavut is the current extreme that has now been better documented for all to see, there are many other areas of Canada that are in a significant crisis, perhaps as bad or worse than Nunavut.  To know for sure, all we have to do is go out there, then look, listen, and report.

Most Canadian families are forced to “dumb down” their grocery purchases, leaving the more nutritious foods on the grocery store shelves.  They feel forced to make the choice for less nutritious foods, in favour of paying the electric bill, the gas bill, and their mortgage.

So I ask Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; and MP Leona Aglukkak, Minister of the Environment, Minister for the Arctic Council, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and former Minister of Health; and Chicken Farmers of Canada the following questions:
  1. Since importation of foods to remote communities build dependencies, hurts self-sufficiency, hurts local economies, and make nutritious food even more unaffordable, do you support the principle of helping ensure locally produced, nutritious, safe, and affordable food; however and where ever feasible?
  2. Whereas dietary protein and fat are essential constituents of a healthy diet, and whereas poultry are the most efficient and affordable source of locally produced protein and fat that is feasible for all regions of Canada, do you support the development and encouragement of local poultry production for all communities and regions of Canada?
  3. Whereas the UN report, Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment strongly recommends government support of small agriculture, do you support the development and encouragement of small flock poultry farms as a solution for all regions of Canada, especially remote areas?
  4. What specific actions have you personally taken, and your organization taken to support or advance local food and food security in Canada?
Remember, these are the people who continue to administer the Supply Management system for chicken that charges 300% more for chicken in Canada than the world price charged everywhere other than Canada. 

Is there nothing more than callous disregard for the people of Canada when the big wig Board members of CFO (Chicken Farmers of Ontario) meet around their fancy solid oak board table?  It is human nature for these millionaires to take care of themselves first and foremost; I get that.  However, even in the Dark Ages, the King would throw the odd hunk of meat to the floor for the dogs, or sweep the crumbs from the table so that the mice might live another day.  I have been assured that Caesar did the same in Imperial Rome, and Pharaoh did the same for his Israelite slaves.

Where is the Provincial and Federal Cabinet on these issues?  The Ministers of Agriculture are expected to take care of their portfolio, and bring pressing issues before the rest of the Cabinet.  If those Ministers of Agriculture fail to speak, the rest of the Cabinet will incorrectly assume that all is well.  In Ontario’s case, the Premier and the Ag. Minister are one in the same, Kathleen Wynne.  I assume it would be difficult for Ontario’s Ag Minister not to have the ear and attention of the Premier.

Well, for anybody who is reading, let me tell you:   ALL IS NOT WELL!   Pass the word.

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