In May 2017, the Government of Canada launched consultations towards the creation of a new food policy, something it says is “a way to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food.”
It’s also something the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), and others have been recommending for years. In 2011, the CFA published Towards a National Food Strategy, stating that the food system “is simply not functioning as effectively as it should, nor is it sustainable in its current form.”
Since the federal government’s announcement, ag stakeholders have participated in discussions around what such a policy might look like, and what to include beyond the obvious — food.
“Many of us don’t like change, but none of us have control of the agenda to prevent change,” says Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada. “So what we need to be doing is having discussions with government about what kind of policy framework they will have that goes beyond food policy.”
The challenges in collaborating are plenty. Food has to be developed ‘sustainability’, yet affordably, and there needs to be a way to address food security. And, even within those discussions there are difficulties.
“Well one of the problems with the discussion of sustainability is to define exactly what it means,” says Bacon, adding that the federal government has restricted it to greenhouse gases. “All of us know that there is land that is currently used for grazing or roughage production which should never be cultivated; which provides a home for biodiversity.”
There’s a suite of measurements for buzz words like sustainability, and varying nutritional needs of citizens, he says, and agricultural representatives need to be at the table to help figure it all out.
It’s something Bacon believes is long overdue.