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South Niagara chapter to hold forum on the right to local food

Fiona McMurran, South NiagaraThe Council of Canadians South Niagara chapter will hold a public forum on the right to local food called ‘Local Food: The Policy Landscape’ in Welland today.

The Welland Tribune reports, “The event is based around dialogue and collaboration among local food-related organizations, including food agencies and services, producers and distributors, consumers, business and government. …Fiona McMurran said on behalf of the chapter said that the event will serve as a way of networking. The Council of Canadians, she added, often feels there is a disconnect between the people fighting for food justice and the people growing the food. McMurran said that the council [also] wants to find a food strategy that will work toward making local food more accessible to people who might have a hard time economically.”

The article adds, “The aim of Friday’s event, she said, is to get people fired up and interested in local food supplies. …She also noted many people don’t see the perspective of local farmers and don’t understand why local foods tend to cost more.” McMurran says, “The Farmers’ Market in Welland has been my anchor to the community since I moved here.”

The public forum will feature speakers addressing federal, provincial and regional perspectives. New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Malcolm Allen, who is the federal opposition critic on agriculture and agri-food, will speak on a pan-Canadian food strategy. Jaya James, a policy analyst with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, will speak on Ontario’s Local Food Act. And Bill Hodgson, a regional councillor and chair of the Niagara Region Agricultural Policy and Action Committee, will speak on strategies to implement the Local Food Act in Niagara.

The chapter notes, “In the fall of 2013, we attracted a number of new members from various parts of Niagara, all of whom were interested in working on issues of Food Justice. We have been pooling our experience and knowledge of the many questions surrounding food and agriculture and doing our best to learn more, through meetings and webinars on local food distribution issues, learning about new research on agriculture, land us policies, water and environmental conservation, and related issues, as well as attending workshops and meetings here and in Toronto and Hamilton on food insecurity and problems with food distribution.”

The South Niagara chapter presented a resolution on the right to local food that was adopted at the Council of Canadians annual general meeting in Hamilton this past October.

‘Local Food: The Policy Landscape’ is taking place during Local Food Week (June 1 to 7).

Further reading
UN special rapporteur says Harper’s Canada-EU CETA will hurt the right to food (March 2013 blog)
Ecological Farmers of Ontario say no to CETA (April 2011 blog by Stuart Trew)
Concerns raised about loss of farmland for Deltaport expansion (April 2012 blog)

Photo: Chapter activist Fiona McMurran will be joined by Malcolm Allen, Bill Hodgson, Jaya James and others today at a forum on local food.