Local Food Act – A Missed opportunity

WOODSTOCK – On Wednesday April 17, Ernie Hardeman, Oxford MPP and PC Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, spoke to Bill 36, Local Food Act and said that it misses many opportunities to address challenges in local food production, distribution and education.

“There is nothing in this bill that will have a significant impact on the growing, availability or consumption of local food,” said Hardeman “We need a real Food Act that addresses the challenges with our food system from the need to bring together supply through a regional food terminal, to the red tape facing our processors, the lack of small abattoirs and the need for food literacy to be part of our curriculum.”

During the speech Hardeman pointed to the hard work of groups such as Sustain Ontario, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable, Christian Farmers and National Farmers Union who had all put forward many ideas which were not included in the government’s Local Food Act.

“We appreciated all of the ideas that these organizations put forward and I’m disappointed that we don’t see that work reflected in this bill and that the government has missed the opportunity to implement those initiatives which would have strengthened our food system,” Hardeman said during the debate.

In addition Hardeman raised concerns that the Local Food Act will replace Ontario Agriculture Week. The Local Food Act introduced today moved local food week to the week starting the Monday before thanksgiving, which has been Ontario Agriculture week since 1998. He also expressed concern that the government has chosen not to include real measurable targets for increasing local food procurement by the broader public sector.

“It is disappointing that after her commitment to introduce a strengthened food act the Premier has made no substantial changes to the bill and taken no action to address the many issues facing our agriculture industry and food processors,” said Hardeman. “We are committed to work with local food groups, processors and farmers to put forward amendments that will address some of these issues to try to strengthen Ontario’s agriculture industry and our food system.”

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For more information, contact:
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
(416) 325-1239