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Frank Stronach: As shortages threaten the remainder of the world, Canada must make meals provide a precedence


We ought to be introducing measures to bolster Canadian farming and decreasing dependence on international suppliers

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Consider the next alarming truth: final week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that the warfare between Russia and the Ukraine — two of the world’s largest producers of wheat — may result in a severe international meals disaster.

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That dire view is shared by the Biden administration within the U.S., which stated that the warfare will trigger famine in sure components of the world and meals shortages elsewhere, whereas the United Nations has warned that smaller nations in Africa and the Middle East will face extreme shortages later this yr.

Although Canada shall be considerably insulated from the affect of this looming meals disaster, the actual fact that we’re even speaking a couple of meals disaster is a serious cause why our nation must re-examine the best way we take into consideration meals.

To start with, agriculture ought to be thought-about an important trade and a strategic precedence on the identical scale as nationwide defence, water and vitality.

Agriculture ought to be thought-about an important trade

Canada ought to have the power to provide sufficient meals on our personal soil to feed our complete inhabitants within the occasion of warfare, catastrophe or the type of international shortages we might expertise within the months forward. This ought to be a core a part of our nationwide emergency preparedness plan and a elementary function of our well-being and our safety as a nation.

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As a younger boy rising up throughout the Depression and the Second World War, my household — like a lot of the households in our city — by no means had a lot to eat. On most days, we had a bowl of cornmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and at any time when we had been fortunate sufficient to get some meat, it was largely fats and gristle.

Wartime meals rationing meant starvation and deprivation for a lot of households, however we at all times had some contemporary greens that supplemented our meagre meals. My mom, who had an entrepreneurial streak in her, grew some greens on a small plot of land that she rented close to our residence. She tended the backyard on weekdays after working her shift on the native manufacturing facility and on weekends to herald a number of additional {dollars}. She grew cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and onions after which offered them on the native market.

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Increasingly, a lot of the meals we purchase at present at our native grocery store comes from all around the world and is shipped to our cities and shops. The cellophane-wrapped meat we purchase in one in every of our giant nationwide grocery chains would possibly come from Australia, whereas the produce and fruits would possibly come from South Africa or Chile, and the frozen seafood would possibly come from Indonesia or Vietnam.

Contrast this with the meals we used to purchase a number of generations in the past. Most folks used to buy at their neighbourhood grocers. Back then, folks knew the shopkeeper by identify, they knew the butcher who offered them their sausages, steaks or pork chops, they usually knew the baker who made their contemporary bread and pastries. More importantly, folks knew the place their meals got here from and the way it was made. In most circumstances, the meals was domestically grown or raised on close by farms.

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We have to revert again to these days by producing and promoting meals which might be grown domestically — a development that’s actually beginning to acquire traction. This wouldn’t solely assist our native economies however would assist improve meals freshness and high quality whereas decreasing vitality prices associated to delivery meals over hundreds of miles. Most importantly, it might assist restore some measure of meals independence.

One of the explanations we’re importing increasingly more meals is that our household farms are declining. But these farms are a important part of any nationwide meals technique. To spur higher agricultural improvement, I suggest we introduce a lot of tax advantages to get younger folks streaming again to the land. Growing meals is noble and satisfying work.

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We additionally want to provide farmers some monetary breaks, particularly when you think about the numerous hours they work, and notably at farms that increase animals, which is a seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year job. There’s one thing amiss when Bay Street, which is constructed round paper and digital monetary transactions, makes extra earnings than all of Canada’s farmers put collectively. At the top of the day, you’ll be able to’t eat paper or gigabytes.

We want to provide farmers some monetary breaks

I imagine we also needs to present a brief authorities subsidy to assist Canadian farmers transition to natural agriculture, with the long-term goal of Canada changing into a world chief within the manufacturing of natural meals.

Ultimately, no nation — particularly one blessed with the entire wealthy agricultural land that we’ve got — ought to be left weak to sudden adjustments within the international meals provide system due to a dependence on international imports.

There isn’t any useful resource or commodity on the earth extra essential or extra elementary than meals. It’s excessive time that we handled it with the urgency and care that it deserves.

National Post

Frank Stronach is the founding father of Magna International Inc., one in every of Canada’s largest international corporations, and an inductee within the Automotive Hall of Fame.

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