agriculture

Mar
20

Small food businesses: what's driving you nuts?

We hear often from our members about regulations at different levels of government that hamper small food and farming producers small start-ups from getting going or scaling up your business.

We're wondering what policy, regulation, and government stumbling blocks you've faced in your good food business. Please let us know in the comments section below - this info will be really helpful for us to make some change. Please share your story:

Jan
18

Wynne commits to passing stronger Local Food Act + food jobs

Liberal leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne has written Food Forward, committing to pass a strengthened Local Food Act that would, "develop goals and targets around the production, processing, distribution, sales and marketing of Ontario food." 

This statement on goals and targets across the sector is an improvement upon uncertain language in the Local Food Act. When the government prorogued the Legislature, the Act, which had just been introduced, was left in limbo.

Wynne had previously commited to re-introducing the Act and serving as Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. Other relevant points in her platform relating to food/jobs include:

- "Streamline regulations that impact the Agri-food industry, review current rural/agricultural assessment and taxation, and develop a single window information approach to government" Food Forward has asked for a review of regulations that hamper small food enterprises

- "Introduce community hubs for adult education and training - coordinating government, non-profit, and private sector resources to give recent graduates, new Canadians and the unemployed practical tools to participate in the workforce"

Food Forward also wants to see buying targets and government support for farmers who grow healthy, ecological food and small food sector start-ups. Though risk management programs have their place and food exports have been a recent priority of Premier McGuinty, the government and future premier will need to develop more creative policies to effectively address and bring small farms back to Ontario. Food sector policy that considers farmer income, fair labour, and young and newcomer farmers to grow ecologically food for diverse, local markets would support the creation of new food jobs and market opportunities in Toronto. 

Food Forward also supports Sustain Ontario's call for food leadership.

See Kathleen Wynne's letter and response to our Food Forward's questionnaire below.

 

Dear Mr. Higgins,

Thank you very much for your letter enclosing Food Forward’s questionnaire. I am pleased to outline my position on these key issues of importance.

Ontario's farmers and Agri-Food businesses put healthy, locally grown food on our tables, contribute $33 billion to our economy and represent 10 per cent of our entire workforce — 700,000 jobs.

To keep our Agri-Food businesses strong, stable and secure we've invested over $2 billion in farm income stabilization programs since 2003.

Ontarians grow the best food in the world. That's why we're continuing to push hard to promote local foods and support our farmers with risk management programs. While we've called on the federal government to support Ontario farmers, the Hudak PCs won't stand up for our farmers. It's simply not a priority for them.

As Premier, I will work hard supporting, promoting and celebrating locally grown food. And only Ontario Liberals have a plan to keep building a strong and prosperous rural Ontario — one that will continue to support farm families for generations to come.

Mr. Higgins, thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Food Forward’s letter and questions— and please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wynne

#1. What would you do to support the growth of good food jobs in Ontario across the sector?

I will bring back and pass a strengthened Local Food Act, to support our farmers by promoting food grown and made in Ontario, and develop goals and targets around the production, processing, distribution, sales and marketing of Ontario food.

Sometimes, we Ontario Liberals are accused of not taking rural, agricultural and small town issues seriously. I am going to change that. To demonstrate my personal commitment to rural and small town Ontario and to make sure that a government I lead gets it right, as Leader and Premier I will appoint myself the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for at least one year.

We also need to be selling more food to the world to create good jobs at home. That's why, in January, the Premier is leading a trade mission to China with a major focus on promoting Ontario agri-food. We're asking every Ontario family to shift just $10 of their weekly grocery budget to locally grown Ontario food, which would increase sales by $2.4 billion for our businesses and create 10,000 jobs.

I will empower our cities and towns, and our rural and northern regions. We need to move forward with a balanced approach celebrating all that rural Ontario can contribute to our shared prosperity. Working together with community and municipal leadership we can secure a prosperous future for our rural and agricultural communities in Ontario.

#2. Would good food jobs or a strengthened Local Food Act be a priority of your government?

I’m proud to have the support of Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and I will continue his good work by re-introducing an Ontario Local Food Act and working with farmers to bring more Ontario food to the table.

I am strongly committed to protecting our family farms, with important programs such as risk management, announced in the 2011 Budget. We will continue to work with farmers and industry to put more Ontario food onto kitchen tables. That includes building on our $80-million investment in Ontario’s Buy Local Strategy and supporting our local Ontario food processors through economic development funding. Our Buy Local Strategy includes substantial funding for local farmers’ markets, which has helped them increase the number of farmers’ markets from 90 in 2002 to 159 today.

Oct
21

Drawing a line in our land

Celebrating Soupstock, we're remembering the impact of Foodstock, as well as thinking about the impact that a united food movement of the scale we're enjoying in Woodbine Park could make in creating the type of food system we envision.

Please enjoy and share this re-posted blog.

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If there’s something big we learned from our province’s 30,000+ person contribution to World Food Day – FoodStock – it’s that Ontarians (both urban and rural folk) strongly value our farmland, local food jobs, and the delicious dishes we make from it all.

This shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

Not long ago, we didn’t have the type of food culture and economy we do today.  Indeed, we had many more farmers.  But it’s unlikely we would have found tens of thousands to make the trek out to a chilly farm to make a donation, enjoy good grub and take a stand on local food.

In the past, a proposal for a giant open-pit mine would have brought out environmentalists concerned about water quality and land degradation with locals worried about the threats to their community.  And while those from the affected area have again led the charge, they have today found their broadest support from a burgeoning movement who consider food reasons the primary ones in which to put their booted feet down.

And while foodies had an enjoyable protest demanding their voices be heard against an American hedge fund buying up land for the mega quarry, another type of foodie joined forces with Occupy to set up camp in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and many other cities for many of the same underlying reasons. 

The present system has led to the ability of corporations, speculators and hedge funds to make growing profits from higher food prices, land ownership and destruction of the commons, while farmland loss, levels of food bank use and atmospheric carbon continue to skyrocket.  As the food movement grows, links are being made among issues, from farm work to urban poverty, as are the connections within their common causes and potential solutions. 

Farmland protection is but one issue to which a busy movement must keep its attention focused.  The “stop the mega quarry” team has the strength behind it to be a winning one.  To halt the loss of farmland once and for all, this large group must also lend its attention to ongoing local battles , no matter the jurisdiction, and demand new plans to expand and strengthen the Greenbelt and make provincial legislation win ahead of gas plants, mines and sprawl.

But it also needs to create new winning alliances with farmers, farm workers and food processors to create policies that work for all different parts of the chain.  The Greenbelt, though good for the land, hasn’t brought much benefit in and of itself to the farmers.  It should also look to whom good food must feed and connect with those poorly nourished by the present food system.

A mix of good ideas (currently proposed by Sustain Ontario and its partners) could help farmers feed cities, while helping to counter the economic forces that make it valuable for farmers to sell their land.

A movement of tens of thousands will not only shift the political tide on an issue.  It can, if well-organized, demand the democratic and policy changes that will preserve farmland, and create programs to create good jobs (and to better the existing ones) that could feed local, sustainable Ontario food to all.

The cue has come from the food sovereignty and food democracy movements of the Global South, to take the food power back from the towers of greed, and into the hands of the people.

With newly elected governments, local and global sentiments for change and a food movement burgeoning onto the scene, there could not be a better time to draw a line in our land, raise our voice and say what we stand for.

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Darcy Higgins is the Executive Director of Food Forward. Originally posted Oct 17, 2010. Join Food Forward today.

darcy@pushfoodforward.com

Oct
5

World Food Day Toronto: creating a vibrant local food system that works for everyone

Join us for an exciting World Food Day, hosted by the Regent Park community, to learn more about some of the food problems in our neighbourhoods, and how we can create a just and sustainable food system in Toronto.

The evening begins with a diverse local food reception with world-famous chef & Soupstock organizer/food activist Michael Stadtlander, with samples of his, and food from the community. We'll hear from Michael, government, and food community leaders on how we can work together for better food and food access. The evening will end with "unconference" style workshops giving you an opportunity to discuss and develop food solutions with our guests. 

Speakers in food justice, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship include Nick Saul (Community Food Centres Canada), Suresh Doss (Ontario Food Trucks), Laura Reinsborough (Not Far From The Tree), Erin Shapero (Ontario Greenbelt Alliance), Yung Chang (film maker), Mark Cutrara (Cowbell Restaurant), Tzazna Miranda-Leal (Justicia for Migrant Workers), David Reycraft (Regent Park food Partnership, Dixon Hall), Seana Irvine (Evergreen), Bryan Gilvesy (YU Ranch, Sustain Ontario). Meet food organizers from Regent Park and get involved in projects and campaigns.

Where: Daniels Spectrum ~ a Cultural Hub in Regent Park, 585 Dundas Street East. Toronto

When: October 16, Doors Open/Sign-in 5:15 - Reception 5:30-6:00 - Guests, speakers, workshops 6:00-9:00

How: Get your ticket here. This event is pay what you can, to support Food Forward's ongoing work and Food Entrepreneur Training Program. Learn more about how to get involved in Toronto food projects from our links above.

Event organized by food advocacy group Food Forward and social change film series Films That Move.

Diverse local + sustainable food donations are welcome for those who'd like to showcase their eats.

Tweet: #wfd2012 #foodTO

Facebook: Event page

Sponsored by the Regent Park Food Partnership, The Centre for Social Innovation, and The Michael Young Family Foundation