When we saw how quickly empty shelves became a common sight at the beginning of COVID-19, food security became a top-of-mind issue for many. And then was again on our minds as we watched the West Coast of the U.S. engulfed in wildfires.
The food security of British Columbians is threatened by the changing climate in major supply regions such as California, Florida and Mexico. We need to be prepared in recognizing this threat. We must do more to protect agricultural land in our communities, expand the area of land under food production and establish a long-term food sustainability strategy for the province. This way we can decrease reliance on increasingly unreliable import supply chains and diversify our farming in BC so that we aren’t overly reliant on an export-import model.
Farmers are the key to this plan. We need to urgently identify and implement options to make farming a more attractive and lucrative endeavour, especially for younger farmers. In recent years, agricultural land has become tied to the escalating housing market in many parts of BC, and it’s become difficult for young farmers to get on the land.
There are tools at government’s disposal to remedy this. Just as the government stepped in to create the agricultural land reserve (ALR) many decades ago, we can take action to ensure farming has a future in BC. One way to do this is to create a publicly owned agricultural land bank available to lease for new farmers.
We also need to recognize that the interconnectivity of these decisions. The decisions that we make about our forests, about development, impact our food security. We need to get smarter about how we make decisions as we build our plan for the future.
The BC Greens' plan for Food security
- Ensure that farmers have access to local processing facilities and that they share in the returns from processing.
- Enable the growing of high value crops, such as cannabis, to supplement farm income.