Farmers feed cities; farmers need cities

Although people still see the yellow Farmers Feed Cities signs, the agricultural sector as a whole is in better shape today than it was in 2005, when the slogan was developed by On­tario’s grains and oilseed sector in response to a serious farm income crisis.

Unfortunately the slogan does not adequately describe farmers’ total contributions to cities. It also does not convey the message that, while farmers feed cities, they also need cit­ies, and they need those cities to be economically viable in order to be a profitable market for the goods and services farmers produce.

Farmers Feed Cities is still as valid today as it was in 2005. But farmers and cities, while in some ways far removed from each other, depend on a mutually beneficial relation­ship that needs both sides of the equation to be economically heal­thy. Here are just a few examples of why farmers and cities need each other.

Farmers produce not just food for people, but also the in­gredients for feed for livestock and pets, and even simple things like bedding material for those hamster and guinea pig cages. A healthy economy is needed for urbanites to spend some of their disposable in­come on pets and recreational animals.

– Farmers feed cities with cleaner air and water, thanks to the environmentally progres­sive management practices that the farm community has devel­oped. As science evolves, farm­ers respond by adopting even better practices. Farmers also provide habitat for wildlife and protected species. The Christ­ian Farmers Federal of Ontario has long been of the opinion that these public goods and services need to be paid for by the public.

Farmers grow the Christmas trees that will soon be on display in many urban homes. They also provide cities with the grass seed, the plants and the trees that are part of the urban front and back lawns. They even provide the cut flowers displayed on the dining room table.

Urban families need stable jobs and reliable incomes in order to afford those extras.

Farmers provide access to tracts of land for snowmobile clubs and hunters, ensuring that outdoor recreational activities can take place in large areas across the province.

Ontario’s farm organiza­tions need to continue advocat­ing for sufficient government support for the agricultural sec­tor because Farmers Feed Cities. Given the current eco­nomic realities, those organiza­tions also need to recognize and show their support for gov­ernment assistance programs for other economic sectors in this province.

Because Farmers Need Cit­ies to provide profitable mar­kets for the goods and services they produce.

Jenny Denhartog is the Field Services Associate of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.