So who’s gonna grow the food?

Here are some interesting factoids about Canadian agriculture from the Canadian Agriculture Museum Website

  • every day, each of us consumes or uses something produced on farms
  • there are approx. 280,000 farms in Canada
  • today, only 3% of Canadians live on farms; in 1930, Canada became more urban than rural (i.e. more than 50% of the population lived in cities)
  • in 1900 one farmer could produce enough food to feed 7 – 10 people; today a Canadian farmer can feed 90 people or more due to more efficient production methods
  • we export 40% to 50% of our gross agricultural produce
  • major exports are grains, red meats and oilseeds
  • major markets are USA, China, Japan and the former USSR
  • major imports are fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Canada’s food prices are among the lowest in the world
  • more than 98% of all farms in Canada are family owned and operated.

So we import most of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts, eh? The food we eat? That doesn’t surprise me. All of Canada’s good quality farmland — the kind that produces the food that nourishes us — is located in a narrow strip along the southern border. Settlers were attracted to these areas for exactly that reason, however now small settlements have grown into huge cities that are chewing up first class farmland and spitting out suburbia and highways. This is a huge problem in Ontario, and is particularly serious in the lower mainland of B.C., where suburban growth is exponential and most of the province’s miniscule 1% of good farmland is being eyed for housing developments. The region’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) policies have been somewhat successful in holding back the tide of suburbia, though vulnerable to corruption (in BC politics??? no!!!) and powerful development interests.

For an idea of how “the other side” rationalizes in favour of development, check out this article from the “Planning and Markets” Website:

In terms of stated policy objectives, Vancouver’s ALR was quite successful. The rationale was that it was important to protect prime agricultural land in the Lower Mainland because 3 percent of the agricultural land produced 40 percent of British Columbia’s agricultural output. But is this rational? Given that there is a world food market that is easily accessible to wealthy nations and regions, and that British Columbia accounts for a trivial proportion of world food output, why should a rapidly growing metropolitan region (a projected 65 percent increase by 2021) need to have any agricultural production at all? The only answer, and perhaps it is an acceptable answer, is that 85 percent of the electorate approves of the ALR. The only objection to this position is whether the electorate was fully informed about some of the costs of the ALR, in terms of higher house prices and other costs. If the remaining ALR was abolished, it could accommodate 3.6 million more people at current incremental densities!

Apparently, ordinary common sense is not a requisite for a good education, as this writer very nicely illustrates. Yes, let’s all depend on someone else to take care their good farmland and supply us with food, and pray that they don’t follow our own example. God help us.

Fortunately, there are good people who do have some common sense, and who are fighting a battle that shouldn’t have to be fought. In Abbotsford, on the lower mainland outside of Vancouver, Dave Sands is helping lead the charge. Dave was a speaker and panel member at a public forum in June called “Our Foodlands Under Threat”, and as he said, “We shouldn’t even be having this seminar. We shouldn’t even have applications for our farm land.”

…tomato grower Dave Ryall caught many people in the audience off guard when he made an emotional plea to cities to preserve the local farm land.

“We don’t have to live on soil that can be producing food. With the stroke of a pen, the power of a bulldozer, we can destroy what took nature millions of years to develop,” he said. With just three per cent of Canadians working as farmers, they have no political voice left, so “it’s up to urban residents to protect food lands,” he said.

It’s worth repeating: With just three per cent of Canadians working as farmers, they have no political voice left, so it’s up to urban residents to protect food lands.

Think about it.