Could respect for ALL farmers spread to Richmond?

There’s evidence of systemic disrespect toward small farmers in the City of Richmond by more powerful interests. In that context, it is encouraging to see that Canada’s National Farmers Union does not snear at every farmer who can only afford a couple of acres as a “hobby farmer,” a lower form of being than “bona fide farmers.” On the contrary, the NFU’s national convention has passed a resolution that opens NFU membership to all farmers urban farmers, even if their farms are small and/or urban. In effect, the NFU has asserted a basic form of equality that applies to all persons engaged in farming in Canada. The NFU’s Dec. 8 press release states:

Newly elected NFU Youth Vice-President Paul Slomp stated that “young and new farmers are supporting themselves and feeding their communities by producing fruits, vegetables, grains and some cases livestock on lands within city boundaries.”  Paul, a livestock farmer from Eastern Ontario, went on to say, “These farmers tend to be well-educated and innovative in their efforts to reclaim unused acreage.  The NFU is very inclusive and our members have diverse operations.  It makes sense to include urban farmers in the organization.  Membership in the NFU will give these farmers a forum to bring policy to all levels of government and allow them to contribute both their expertise and their concerns to the betterment of all farm families.”

The press release goes on to say:

These plots may be small, but these skilled farmers use them quite extensively, returning from $5,000 to $10,000/acre,” said NFU Women’s President, Joan Brady.  Brady, who operates an intensive market garden on 3.5 acres in Huron County, went on to say, “Communities are increasingly concerned about planning for their food needs for the future.  Food production in the cities will act as a buffer to the insecurity of a global food system, well beyond the control of the average Canadian.”

The enlightened action by the National Farmers Union will be good news for many members of the Garden City Lands Coalition. Whether through the Garden City Lands or through alternative means, the survival of small farms and the farmers who farm them is clearly important for local food security, agricultural plant diversity, and an infusion of younger farmers locally and throughout British Columbia.

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2 Comments »

  1. 1
    Arzeena Says:

    It would be great if the City’s own Agricultural Advisory Committee could also reflect this “enlightened” stance and allow farmers with smaller acreages to have a permanent seat on the Committee.

  2. 2
    April Says:

    Agree highly with Arzeena! These changes in policy and “reflection” start at the smaller levels of government – our own back yards, so to speak. How can we change this, as I’m more than willing to work on it!

    I’m really thrilled with the NFU. They are doing an amazing job! Think I’ll go join right now…


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