MLA Report: Government must take real action on food security

another news report that food prices are going to rise even further in 2016

This morning, I woke up to another news report that food prices are going to rise even further in 2016, and one of the significant causes of this increase could be climate change. Food costs in Canada rose by 4.1 per cent in 2015, a rate that is much higher than any other industrialized country, according to CBC News.

People in this area care deeply about the food they eat and, as a region, we are looking more and more at growing food locally. There are numerous projects and organizations that have taken serious steps towards planning for a future where we are much more able to feed ourselves.

For example, the release of the Revelstoke Food Security Strategy shows Revelstoke’s real commitment to addressing not only the need for more local food production, but also the need to ensure access to affordable food for all our citizens. And in the Adapting to Climate Change in Kimberley report from 2010, food security was listed as a Top 10 priority for the city.

The Columbia Basin Trust has listed, in its Strategic Priorities document for the next five years, support for local agricultural production and access to healthy food.

Local governments, community-based organizations and citizens are doing their part to bring this critically important issue into focus. Real plans are being developed. Recommendations are being implemented. And we are starting to see early results from that effort. But it is past time for the province to step in and meet its obligations to ensure we can feed ourselves into the future.

The Opposition Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food, composed of five NDP MLAs and one Independent MLA, recently released its first report.

Recommendations ranged from removing regulatory and administrative barriers to farming through to the promotion of B.C. farm products and businesses. Specifically, there were recommendations to help us prepare for the challenges that will increase due to climate change.

The recommendations state that the Ministry of Agriculture should disclose the long-term implications of all future legislative and policy change — and Cabinet-ordered ALR exclusions — in the context of climate change, and that the Ministry should report annually on B.C.’s long-term food security.

We know that higher food prices are coming. And we know that climate change is affecting the areas that we currently rely on to provide our food. We must put pressure on the provincial government to do something meaningful to address this issue.

Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca.

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