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Friday, December 6, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Our ag. industry is one of Trump’s latest targets

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Just hours after badmouthing Canada and other G7 allies, U.S. President Donald Trump was embracing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un like a long-lost friend.

While the spectacle in Singapore revealed Trump at his delusional best, the make-believe deal he agreed to will have no impact on life here or south of the border. The same can’t be said for Trump’s fit of pique and desire for a very real trade war with Canada and the EU, among others.

There are very real threats to the steel, aluminum and auto industries, with companies on both sides of the border forecasting hardship and job losses. Facts and economic reality played no part in the Trump’s decisions. He also vented his spleen on Canada’s agricultural sector, specifically supply management. The latter is nothing new, as opening up Canadian markets to foreign agricultural products is a longstanding part of so-called free trade negotiations.

The concept of food security, which extends to a local food movement that goes beyond supply-managed goods, doesn’t enter into the equation for Trump and those who share his views.

Undoubtedly some Canadians will rejoice at the prospect of lower prices in the supermarket. That’s certainly not a bad thing, though not guaranteed, and at what cost? The likely result of supply management’s demise will be fewer Canadian farmers. Those that do remain will be larger conglomerates, hardly in keeping with local food campaigns. There’s every reason to believe we will be subjected to food with far fewer controls. And, in the long run, there’s likely to be no savings, as we’ll end up with more direct agricultural subsidies – the lower prices of goods in the U.S. and European Union, for instance, stem from heavy subsidization. You either pay at the checkout counter or you pay through your taxes.

The pursuit of ever-cheaper costs risks not only Canada’s food security – making us more dependent on imports for an essential like food – but also our health. This is most evident in food imports from China, though that country is not part of trade discussions at this point (though subject to the mood swings of the U.S. president). The quality and treatment of foodstuffs from that country are suspect, and federal laws aren’t overly helpful in protecting consumer interests, let alone our safety.

Such imports fly in the face of a growing desire to buy food as locally as possible. The practice also hides from consumers information that might lead them to choose another product because of safety concerns about goods from suspect parts of the globe.

Food’s connection to our health and well-being – an emphasis on local food – will be front and center at the upcoming Taste of Woolwich event, which emphasizes a range of issues at play for a healthier and more sustainable future, as food comes with economic, health and environmental impacts. Generally, the more local the food, the better the outcomes on all fronts.

The goal of the event is to showcase what’s available locally, to demonstrate how incorporating local food into our diets needn’t be a chore and to have some fun doing it.

From a marketplace through to cooking demonstrations, the emphasis will be on what local food can do for you.

Local food does tend to cost a little more, but consumers benefit through fresher food and there’s a multiplier effect on the economy, as every local agricultural job support another four jobs. The more educated people are about the benefits of local food, they’re more likely to pay a bit more for it, say proponents of the local-food movement.

 

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