Role of family farmers on World Food Day

On World Food Day – October 16 – the National Farmers Union is reflecting on hunger and the critical need to eradicate it. Farmers understand the relationship between food and hunger uniquely and very well as the primary producers of food products. What the world often forgets, however, is that farmers can and do go hungry everywhere, even in North America.

NFU Women’s President Joan Brady sees the links between World Food Day and her participation in events related to the United Nations’ “International Year of the Family Farm”. She said, “As I reflect on this year’s World Food Day theme, “Family Farming Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth,” I can’t help but think about the brokenness of a food system in which farm families go hungry.”

In an essay posted on the FAO North America website (see link below), Brady shares some of her personal story. “It has been my personal experience that when prices go down or costs go up, farm families do without – even here in Canada and the United States,” she said. “As a society, we must call for policy changes – legislative, regulatory and programmatic – to protect and preserve family farms, their rural communities and our shared environment.”

Brady has been a long-time advocate for Canadian farm families. She said, “The basic NFU conviction is that family farms should be the primary unit of food production. It is the commitment of those families to both their communities and their environments that are necessary to provide Canadians and the rest of the world with safe, nutritious food.”

She noted that market forces, farm consolidation and the challenges of low margins and significant debt loads threaten the future survival of family farms. “Hunger is never okay, but hunger on the farm – whether in a developing country or in Canada – indicates that something much more worrisome is happening.”

Brady concluded, “Various conversations and activities related to the 2014 UN’s “International Year of Family Farms” have focused public attention on the family farm. This awareness should convince governments everywhere to acknowledge and support – with policies, legislation, regulation and programs – the true essence and value of family farms as the food providers for the world, and thus, help to ensure their continued existence.”

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