Your Voice Counts!
You have a chance right now to speak up for a healthy and stable local food system; one that is ecologically responsible and economically viable. Use your voice!
London has tabled its four-year budget, and City Council will be reviewing, debating, and inviting input on the budget until its final approval in March. There are opportunities for you to provide input at Ward meetings and Public Participation meetings. You can fill out the online feedback form and speak directly to your Councillor.
What does the budget have to do with food?
More than you might think!
This is the first budget London City Council will be approving since they acknowledged that we are facing a climate change emergency. It’s also a multi-year budget, setting the framework for the next four years of a decade that has authoritatively been identified as crucial in avoiding catastrophic climate changes.
The city’s proposed strategies to address the climate emergency include support for a robust local food system, including a strategy to “promote and invest in urban agriculture initiatives”. (You can find the November 2019 report here.) As a community food council, we think these kinds of strategies are crucial and we strongly support them. While they are not specifically included in the draft budget, they are expected to be part of the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) which the draft budget recommends be developed over the next year. That means this is a prime opportunity to strengthen the future of the local food system.
What can you do?
Show your support for a budget that prioritizes action on climate change and invests in urban agriculture, agro-forestry initiatives and a strong, healthy local food system.
- Provide your feedback to city council using the online feedback form
- Sign the London Environmental Network’s petition calling on city council to prioritize climate action by funding as many climate action plans to reduce emissions as possible
- Email, call or tweet your city Councillor with your feedback on the budget
- Speak up at a Public Participation Meeting
- Share this with your friends, family, and social networks
Council has already acknowledged we’re in a climate emergency. Your voice can convince them to make climate action the top budget priority, for the sake of providing a safe and sustainable local food system.
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On December 13 Justin Trudeau released the Mandate Letter for Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The letter underscores the aim of building a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. Trudeau also directs every Minister to accelerate and build on the progress previously made to support self-determination, improve service delivery, and advance reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. And Trudeau emphasizes the need for open, effective, honest, and transparent government.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Priorities
Within Agriculture and Agri-Food, Trudeau underscores the goal that agriculture continues to be a leader in job creation and innovation as well as maximizing its export growth potential. The Letter spells out ten priorities for the Minister Bibeau:
- Review risk management programs with a special focus on AgriStability to help manage environmental and business risks.
- Work on tax measures to facilitate the intergenerational transfer of farms.
- Create a new entity, Farm and Food Development Canada, that consolidates federal financial and advisory services for agriculture.
- Protect Canada’s supply-managed agriculture sections and develop with them a vision of the future in a world of global free-trade agreements.
- To identify additional tools that help Canada’s agriculture and agri-food businesses export and diversify into global markets.
- Develop additional capacity to respond to trade disputes based on recent experiences.
- Provide leadership for the implementation of the new Food Policy for Canada, which aims to:
- Help Canadian communities access healthy food;
- Make Canadian food the top choice at home and abroad;
- Support food security in northern and Indigenous communities; and
- Reduce food waste.
- Support the Minister of Health to ensure that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is making science-based decisions that lead to safe and suitable uses of crop protection products in Canada.
- Create a new fund to help producers and processors close technological and infrastructure gaps inhibiting the development of domestic and international markets.
- Create a new Canada Water Agency to work with other stakeholders to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean, and well-managed.
Middlesex-London Food Policy Council
Many of these priorities will directly impact the communities and residents of Middlesex County and the City of London, though they do not exhaust the issues of concern to us. As a Council, we are looking forward to watching the Liberal government’s progress on these priorities and on other issues facing Canada’s food and agriculture sectors and are looking forward to being one (of many) local partners in support of a robust and resilient Canadian food system.
What do you think are the most pressing food-related concerns facing the Middlesex-London region and its residents? Please share your ideas with us in the comments.
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