NFU Calls on the Canadian Government to Address Food Insecurity
Saskatoon—On the occasion of World Food Day, the National Farmers Union (NFU) calls on the Canadian government to take action to address food insecurity both nationally and internationally. World Food Day commemorates the founding in 1945 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which holds as one of its key objectives the elimination of hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
Last month, the FAO joined a number of other international organizations to release The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) documenting an increase in world hunger. As of 2017 there are approximately 821 million food insecure people around the world, a startling high statistic that signals the need for urgent action on this issue.
“It is shameful that there are so many food insecure people in the world when enough food is being produced to feed everyone on the planet,” said Nettie Wiebe, former NFU President and contributor to the FAO’s Civil Society Mechanism. “Hunger is not a problem of food scarcity; the key problems are systemic and political, and the NFU believes the response must be centred on food sovereignty, where people define their own food and agriculture systems to produce healthy and culturally appropriate food for people through ecologically sound and sustainable methods,” she added.
Canada has its own problems with food insecurity that must also be addressed. “Recent statistics show that over 4 million Canadians are food insecure,” said Wiebe, “And in a country as wealthy as ours this is a situation that should not be tolerated.” It is notable that some regions, such as Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, are experiencing exceptionally high rates of food insecurity, while specific groups, including many Indigenous communities, are disproportionately facing hunger and malnutrition.
The SOFI report indicates that climate variability and extremes are key drivers behind the rise in global food insecurity. These conditions contribute to shortfalls in food availability, with losses in productivity that undermine food production and increase food imports. Changes in climate affect food access, causing spikes in food prices and income loss for farmers, worsened quality and safety of food, and outbreaks of pests and diseases because of rainfall intensity or changes in temperature.
The NFU believes that climate change must be a priority issue for the Canadian government. Canada’s inaction on climate change and its outright contradictions to climate action, such as its recent purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, are contributing to worsening food insecurity.
“World Food Day is the perfect time for Canadians to call on the various levels of government to address food insecurity both globally and here at home,” stated Wiebe. In that regard, the NFU encourages its members and Canadians more broadly to contact their elected representatives and call on the Canadian government to take action on climate change and food sovereignty.