National food policy would form the foundation for ‘a more sustainable food system’

January 16 2018

Canada’s government is going ahead with the idea of developing a national food policy, designed to incorporate the social, environmental and economic aspects of the country’s food system into an integrated framework.

This comes after more than 50 food industry, civil society and farming groups formed an alliance and called on the federal government to create a National Food Policy Council bringing together key stakeholders from across the food system to work collaboratively with the government.

The result would be a group providing diverse expertise and evidence-based advice on how to move toward a food system that better promotes a healthier, more equitable, sustainable and prosperous Canada.

Government 'can’t do everything'

Michael McCain, president and chief executive of Maple Leaf Foods, was pleased by the news and applauded the federal government’s leadership and consultative approach to building a national food policy as the foundation for a more sustainable food system.

“But governments can’t do it all,” he added. “Business and civil society must engage and be part of the solution. An inclusive National Food Policy Council is the best way to drive bold action on the strength of evidence and collaboration.”

Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), says his group supports a multi-stakeholder governing council as a means of ensuring that farmers have a place at the food policy development table.

“We see it as an important forum for sharing perspectives and encouraging dialogue,” Mr Bonnett explained. “Through joint discussions, we can clarify misperceptions and identify opportunities where farmers can help meet emerging consumer demands.”

Diversity benefit

Diana Bronson, executive director of Food Secure Canada, believes that bringing more diversity to the table will ensure that social, health and environmental issues are given proper attention.

Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, added that a rigorous research process would distill best practices from food policy councils around the world to inform recommendations to the Canadian government.

More than 40,000 Canadians responded to the online consultations for A Food Policy for Canada.

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