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In a strategy to boost regional economies, rural livelihoods and consumer choices, Local Food Bills have been introduced in eight American State Senates. (Vermont, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota.)
As of now, Nebraska is the only state where a bill has passed. Advocates for the Bill have asked their government to support public farm markets, build contracts between farmers and public school boards, and supply government institutions with local bounty.
The representatives pushing for the Bills admit that it is a long, hard struggle
against some powerful lobby groups. But even small victories are important. As New Mexico’s Senator Feldman noted, although the legislation is now on hold, $75,000 in local fresh produce was procured for schools in the region.
When reading about this movement in the States, I began to make some comparisons. The Ontario Liberals are making inroads into embracing the idea of ‘buy local’ which began with TV campaigns, billboards and logos earlier this year.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the new $12.5 million “Pick Ontario Freshness” Campaign, which was unveiled this Thursday in Queen’s Park.This campaign focuses more on advertising and marketing support than the direct purchases asked for in the US legislation. This may be a valid strategy, considering the trade laws, competition, lobbying and multiple other factors that can keep a government from action.More…
But when I read, “Of the total, $2.5 million has already been distributed to several agri-food industry associations to assist them in promoting the sale of Ontario products,” it made me wonder exactly who this promotional campaign will help.
Will this money allow local farmers to have more of a say in the markets? Will it benefit all sizes of farm, and include eco-friendly approaches?
Will the promotional campaign help secure the infrastructure, resources, and income much needed in ntario’s farm communities? It seems like the government is doing a bit of a juggling act.
But at least the word on the street is that local food is hip. Now I wonder– will this trend move into a cohesive policy that makes local more than a buzz word? This is the question you should ask yourself each time you bite into that fresh Ontario Ida Red.
The local food bills of 2007 go a long way to address the shortfalls of our predominant global food system. (Environmental Commons report, California, 2007)
When consumers buy Ontario products, they support farmers and enable them to rely less on government subsidies.
(Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario Agriculture Minister)
By: Melissa Benner, FarmStart, Market Link Coordinator.
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