New Provincial Food Strategy Initiative Requires Farmer Input
By Bette Jean Crews
May 4, 2012, Ontario - A provincial initiative is underway to create a food and nutrition strategy for Ontario. Sustain Ontario – a coalition of health and food industry professionals – is among a group of organizations contributing to the document, which is available on the group’s website until May 31, 2012.
While the coalition is particularly interested in health and healthy eating, they also plan to focus on agricultural practices such as economically and environmentally sustainable farming. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) believes that’s where Ontario farmers and agricultural organizations can pitch in.
Recently OFA worked closely with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and other organizations to create a National Food Strategy. The document is the culmination of months of feedback from Ontario’s entire agriculture and agri-food value chain. It reflects a vision for the future of food in Canada, from the people who grow it, process it, distribute and sell it.
The goals of the provincial strategy – to promote health through education, healthy eating and access to healthful foods, and to strengthen the Ontario economy and Ontario environment through a sustainable system – are consistent with the goals of the National Food Strategy document we have developed. This Sustain Ontario initiative allows stakeholders to provide Ontario-specific input for food and health and reflects the authorities and responsibilities at the provincial level.
Sustain Ontario is holding initial consultations on an early draft of its food strategy until the end of May 2012. Groups – including farmers and farm groups – are invited to provide input, and the draft strategy will be re-circulated in June for more feedback.
OFA encourages all farmers and agri-food stakeholders to take this opportunity to comment on the draft food and nutrition strategy for Ontario – posted at sustainontario.com. This is an excellent opportunity to bring forward the ideas that have already been discussed among the agri-food stakeholders for inclusion in this important document.
Farmers and agricultural value chain participants are being asked for our input. Let’s make sure we take this opportunity to be part of the larger discussion about the future of food for our province.