Showing Support for Canadian Farmers
Agriculture is one of the unique industries that both affects, and is affected by, everyone. Besides providing healthy food, farming has a direct effect on economic activity and the environment—both on farms and beyond the fields. When farmers adopt best environmental practices, we all benefit from not only the food and economic activity but also the public goods this sector provides.
As an advocacy group, the CFFO emphasizes the importance of these public benefits by promoting farmland preservation, water stewardship, soil health, and agri-food sector success. Recently, the provincial and federal governments took big steps to increase the public benefits provided by agriculture by directing funding toward several initiatives.
For example, the federal government has committed almost $50 million in support of the Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network to develop automated and digitized solutions in Canada’s agri-food sector. The provincial government has also committed almost $19 million towards two research initiatives: a Dairy Research Cluster ($16.5 million) focusing on efficiency, sustainability, cow welfare, and milk quality, as well as funding for University of Guelph research ($1.8 million) into best practices for soil, air, and water protection on Ontario farms. The Ontario government is also revitalizing the Rural Economic Development (RED) Program, which will “support projects that diversify and grow local economies.” Just this week, both levels of government committed funds toward improving honey bee health and supporting their role in Ontario agriculture.
Publicly funded support for agricultural research and rural development makes sense. Because farming bears so much responsibility for our overall economic and environmental well-being, governments can boost the public benefits farmers provide through funding programs such as the ones recently announced. These recent government commitments express the importance of evolving the industry to not only generate more public benefits but also to withstand some of the new pressures agriculture faces today.
Canada is not only endowed with some of the world’s best farmland but also some of the world’s most effective and sustainable farmers. Supporting the development of the agri-food sector means supporting production of secure and sustainable healthy local food as well as the many public goods it provides to us all.
Josh Kraemer is Research & Policy Assistant for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.