February 17, 2017
For Immediate Release
PC’s Welcome More Agricultural Land, Call for an Even Broader Strategy
Kevin Parsons, Agrifoods Critic for the Official Opposition, welcomes the expansion of Crown land available for agricultural production, saying the recommendation is straight out of the 2015 PC policy blueprint – but Parsons also called for other measures that will be needed if the province is truly committed to making food security a priority by driving local production.
“The expansion of Crown land available for agricultural production is a great beginning, but that is just one element. An even broader array of actions will be needed to help farmers and agricultural producers take full advantage of the opportunities in our province to increase local food production. We have made great strides in recent years and have major success stories to celebrate – in cranberry production, for example- but making additional Crown land available for agriculture must be accompanied by a broader strategy, and we have already put forward suggestions to help with that,” said Parsons.
“In our 2015 policy blueprint, we committed to ‘make food security a provincial priority,’ to ‘protect and expand farmland,’ and also to ‘relax Crown land s policies for farm use’,” said Parsons.
In announcing our agricultural policy on November 19, 2015, our leader, Paul Davis, discussed an even broader approach. He said:
- We will drive growth in our agrifoods sector – growth to sustain communities and jobs, to advance our food security, which right now is unacceptably low, and to supply people with the kinds of healthy, locally grown food that we ought to be eating.
- Our plan is to set bold targets for food security. We will collaborate with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, farmers and others throughout our agricultural sector to substantially increase the amount of local food people in this province can access and eat. By 2025, what percentage of the food we eat could be produced locally? Let’s aim high.
- We will pursue this strategy by making it easier for new entrants to get their farms up and running;
- by protecting and expanding farmland and relaxing Crown land policies for farm use;
- by removing the restriction on farmers relative to selling timber cleared from their land;
- by working with farmers to facilitate succession planning to sustain family farming operations;
- by capitalizing on opportunities to expand primary production of berries, beef, lamb and pork, and harnessing that growth to drive value-added processing; and
- by making it easier to get local produce in the markets.
- Working collaboratively with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture and farmers, we will identify barriers to accessing healthy, local food, and find solutions.
- We will bring farmers and others together to strategize on the best way forward for growth.
- We will identify ways to address issues of transportation, storage, producers’ access to local retailers and so forth.
- We will promote and invest in local farmers’ markets, which showcase locally grown goods and promote a greater understanding of the important role of agriculture in our economy and society.
- We will promote community gardens where seniors’ groups can help us get back to our traditional roots and live healthier lives in the process. (This is an initiative our administration strongly promoted to benefit seniors and also youth)
- We will partner in support of farmers’ forums and the “Agriculture in the Classroom” program so young people can help us lead the way.
- We will work with organizations and provincial schools to expand programs that ensure all school-age children have daily access to healthy foods.
- We will invest in Kids Eat Smart to expand the program, and strengthen the program’s linkages with local food producers.
- We will also continue to invest in food access for northern and remote communities.
Parsons said, “Young farmers need to be able to access capital. We should consider allowing them access to our business programs and establishing a guarantee program similar to the fisheries loan guarantee program.”
“A good announcement has to be followed by others. There is no single announcement that, by itself, will lead us to greater food security. We need a multi-layered approach that collaborates with agricultural producers and helps them get us to where we need to be. They are willing. They need to find a willing partner in the provincial government,” said Parsons.
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, [email protected]