Category Archives: Food Security

$100 billion and rising: Canadian farm debt

A. The amount of money that farmers pay each year in interest to banks and other lenders ($3 billion, on average) is approximately equal to the amount that Canadian citizens each year pay to farmers ($3.1 billion). Thus, one could say that, in effect, taxpayers are paying farmers’ interest bills. Governments are facilitating the transfer of tax dollars from Canadian families to farmers and on to banks and their shareholders.

B. Canadian farmers probably could not service their $100 billion dollar debt without government/taxpayer funding.

C. To take a different perspective: each year farmers take on additional debt ($2.7 billion, on average) approximately equal to the amount they are required to pay in interest to banks ($3 billion on average). One could say that for two decades banks have been loaning farmers the money needed to pay the interest on farmers’ tens-of-billions of dollars in farm debt.

Over and above the difficulty in paying the interest, is the difficulty in repaying the principle.  Farm debt now—$102 billion—is equal to approximately 64 years of farmers’ realized net farm income from the markets.  To repay the current debt, Canadian farm families would have to hand over to banks and other lenders every dime of net farm income from the markets from now until 2082.

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Beginning to end hunger: Belo Horizonte shows the way

Author: M. Jahi Chappell – reviewed by Martin Empson – July 4, 2018

A Brazilian city’s food program feeds the hungry and supports local farmers. It succeeds by empowering communities and challenging inequality.

Hunger is a real crisis for millions of people around the globe. Officially, about 11 percent of the world’s population are acknowledged to be malnourished today, but some studies suggest the figure is more than twice that. Also, as M. Jahi Chappell points out, 1 to 2 billion people suffer from “hidden hunger” — insufficient  nutrients in their diet. At the same time 600 million people suffer from obesity

These figures represent an obscenity: the madness of a food system structured around maximizing profit, while exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. The system also ensures that in the global south and the richer north, farmers, peasants and agricultural producers increasingly face crippling debts, poverty incomes and the pressure of big business, which devalues their crops and boosts incomes for supermarket chains and multinational agribusiness.

It is tempting for socialists to argue simply that the problem is capitalism and that only a socialist, post-capitalist world can feed the world’s population healthily and sustainably. M. Jahi Chappell’s important study shows that this is wrong. It is possible to build a more equitable and sustainable food system today at the same time as strengthening the struggle against capitalism. Chappell illustrates this with a detailed study of the experience of Belo Horizonte (BH), the sixth largest city in Brazil, home to about two and a half million people.

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Making the Invisible Visible: A Bold Strategy to Change the Food System – FoodTank Interview with Dr. Barbara Gemmill-Herren

FoodTank

Dr. Barbara Gemmill-Herren is an agroecologist who lived and worked in Africa for over 25 years and is currently working as an agroecology consultant for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).  She is a chapter author of the new Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food (TEEBAgriFood) report focused on evaluating our agriculture and food systems while considering a range of social, human, and environmental dimensions across the value chain.

Dr. Gemmill-Herrin served as the Delivery Manager for the Major Area of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She implemented a global Pollination Services project for the FAO and worked on the FAO’s Ecosystem Services in Agriculture production. Gemmill-Herrin was a key contributor to the “Beacons of Hope” initiative for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and served as the Director of the Environmental Liaison Centre International.

Food Tank talks to Dr. Barbara Gemmill-Herren about her chapter in the new TEEBAgriFood report about today’s realities, and tomorrow’s challenges in the eco-agri-food system.

INTERVIEW…

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Revealing Food’s Hidden Costs: New Framework for Food and Agriculture

Food Tank – June 4, 2018

“We are trying to pull together the latest scientific results on food systems,” says Müller. “We tried to link together the latest findings of economists, environmentalists, agriculturalists, people looking at labor and trade, and science to fight poverty. If you bring these results together in a new way, you can see that the system is more than all the different parts of the disciplinary sciences working on it.”

To ensure the sustainability of agriculture and food systems, an important step is to account for externalities through market mechanisms. By creating a more comprehensive evaluation framework, decisionmakers can better compare different policies, programs, and strategies, while the market can more accurately value food. TEEBAgriFood hopes their new framework will help achieve their vision of a world where informed decisionmaking upholds public good and ensures nutrition and health for all humans so they can live in harmony with nature.

“Our framework provides a holistic, ethical, wide-angle lens with which to really understand our food systems today,” says Pavan Sukhdev, member of the TEEBAgriFood Steering Committee and Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory. “Because of its holistic approach, this framework is not as easy to apply as a single-lens approach—‘per hectare productivity,’ for example—but it is ethically, socially, economically, and environmentally much more appropriate, and can provide sustainable business models in the context of climate change, changing global demographics, local economies, and health. I want decisionmakers in governments and businesses to realize that they should support the use of this wide-angle lens applied to the full eco-agri-food system instead of the inadequate narrow lens of per-hectare productivity in farms.”

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What is GMO?

What is a Genetically Modified Organism, who should care about it and what does it have to do with a cosmetic site?

From the cosmetic perspective, plants are a significant contributor to natural cosmetics. Fruits, herbs, trees and seeds are only a few examples of the many parts of a plant used in natural cosmetics, for thousands of years now.

Have a quick browse at some natural cosmetic recipes to see for yourself.

Genetically modified organisms have been around for a few decades already and has been quietly moving into our lives without much attention. Bacteria’s, yeasts, insects, plants, fish and mammals have all been genetically modified.

This engineering principle of playing in unknown territory has been traditionally limited to scientific research and producing goods, and only in the last few years has the industry realised the financial benefits of using GMO in food production.

Because of this “new product” in the GMO portfolio, it has become the centre of a lot of controversy and it is important to have a clear understanding of both sides so that you can make an educated decision and get on with your life without having to be sucked into this controversy.

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Radical Food Resistance – A call to arms against Big Food.

BY Wayne Roberts
| 43.2 Food and Resilience

This good food conversation needs to be sprinkled with words that name the dominant food system characteristic – control by dominant corporations. “Struggling against” needs to become as much part of the food ethos as “collaborating toward.”

What would this mean practically?

We would laugh out loud at the mention of, and criticize Ontario’s Local Food Act, which has not provided a dime for public purchasing of local and sustainable food, nor a penny for urban agriculture, or new and young farmers.

We would denounce the governing Trudeau Liberals for giving the kiss of death to a national food policy by handing the file to the department of agriculture, which has no officials or staff who are knowledgeable about food security or public health and which is controlled by agribusiness interests. We would also denounce the Ministry of Finance project, led by private consultant Dominic Barton of McKinsey and Company, to make factory farms and food exports the engine of Canada’s emerging economy – as well as the nearly billion dollars in so-called super-cluster grants to big corporations.

Source: Alternative Journal article