We want support for new farmers
We need to support the next generation of sustainable farmers selling to local markets
Agriculture in Canada is facing a succession crisis. More than half of the Canadian farming population is over 55 and 80% are looking to retire in the next 10 years. Three quarters of them have no one to take over the farm. Meanwhile, a new generation of farmers including those enthusiastically pursuing sustainable and organic methods for local markets, need support. The future food supply in Canada depends in good part on public policy that understands the need for more new farmers.
Agricultural policy in Canada has for too long been dominated by a singular focus on export markets and supporting bigger farms. We need more diversity and we need more new farmers to assume existing farm assets and create new farm businesses in order to supply Canada with sustainable and local food.
Targeted policies are urgently needed to maintain and rebuild Canada’s farm population. The Eat Think Vote campaign is calling for the creation of federal programs designed to reduce the barriers new farmers face in accessing land, capital and training.
Better access to land, capital and training for new farmers:
- Programs helping new farmers gain access to land are required along with joint federal-provincial/territorial legislation developed to prohibit foreign ownership, and limit acquisition of land by private investment funds. Incentives for speculative and absentee land ownership need to be removed.
- Farm Credit Canada’s envelope must be increased in order to develop low interest loan and small grants for new and aspiring farmers.
- More affordable farmer-to-farmer training, mentoring, and apprenticeship programs are required, in addition to supporting more consulting and extension services for existing farmers.
Farmland loss continues unabated across the country. Farm debt continues to rise and so does the cost of purchasing and maintaining a farm. The increasing corporate concentration in all links along the supply chain is affecting the financial viability of farming and rural resilience. Agriculture in Canada needs policies reoriented towards multi-functionality in order to maximizethe social and environmental benefits of vibrant rural communities producing the food we want to eat.