Designing a national food strategy is no easy task – but it is important

The primary objective of those involved in designing Canada’s national food strat­egy is to develop a mission and long-term strategy for the Can­a­dian food system.

Participants expect that will create a focal point for the agri­culture, processing, distri­bu­tion, and customer sectors that will contribute to a sustainable food sector and a healthier eco­nomy, environment, and popu­lation.

Initial work on this strategy started almost a year ago, but intensive work began at the an­nual general meeting of the Cana­dian Federation of Agri­culture in February. A working group from CFA is leading the project with participants from other organizations and repre­sentatives from the value chain and various government agen­cies.

The drive for a national food strategy comes from the realization that food is increas­ingly becoming an issue of con­cern and discussion dom­estically and interna­tionally.

Domestically, those involv­ed in the production of food are finding their returns are shrink­ing while their input costs are growing. That is putting farm­ers increasingly at the mercy of the consuming world, and their success as business people is diminishing.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is one of the lead­ing groups within the CFA fam­ily in search of a national food strategy. We want to give farm­ers a stronger role within the food chain and, as a result, more control over the returns they receive as primary food producers in the world.

We believe a clear, overall objective is lacking in Canada’s current food policy – a clear and meaningful vision for the future of the food system and sectors involved in Canada. A national food strategy for Can­ada will provide an agreed upon direction that will effec­tively guide appropriate food policy for years to come.

At OFA, we believe a national food strategy repre­sents a tremendous opportunity for Canada to establish a food plan to secure healthy food for current and future generations, to guard our environment and boost our economy at the production level.

The working group has de­veloped a set of principles for Canada’s national food strat­egy. We believe these prin­ci­ples reflect both what the work­ing group has learned through the planning process, and the values it believes should be carried forward in implemen­tation of the strategy.

Those working on the strategy believe a national food strategy is necessary to support the development and mainten­ance of a sustainable and sec­ure food system, something critical in allowing govern­ments, businesses, and commu­nities to invest resources strat­egically and effectively.

In designing Canada’s National Food Strategy, mem­bers of the working group see the strategy taking a new, col­laborative and inclusive direc­tion – including all segments of Canada’s complex and inte­grat­ed agriculture and food system, including all who eat.

At OFA, we see the strategy, when complete, reconnecting the Canadian pubic with one of society’s most fundamental elements of survival, but often taken for granted – food.

Details of the work done to date on Canada’s strategy were shared with participants at the recent federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers’ conference – just another stage in gaining national approval for the proposal.