Elmira Independent editorial:
It’s been a tough year to be a farmer.
First came the early heat, which caused apple trees to blossom out of season, and then wither when the cold weather returned. Then came weeks with little to no rain and searing heat, followed by rain that may well have come too late.
The business of being a farmer is always a challenging one. Farmers are at the mercy of the weather, and have to invest a lot of time, money and effort before they ever get paid for their labour.
They also have to deal with the ongoing struggles of equipment failure, the difficulty of finding skilled workers willing to put in the hard labour required on a farm, and, like the rest of us, rising fuel and energy costs.
Most Canadians have become far removed from the farming process, and tend to take for granted the food we consume, food that is always there when we need it.
This fall, we have been told to expect increased food costs — something that we expect will lead to some grumbling. But we really ought to take a good hard look at how blessed we are to live in a nation like Canada, and how little we really have to pay for our food.
According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadians enjoy some of the lowest food prices in the world. Food Freedom Day, the day that the average Canadian has earned enough money to pay for a year’s worth of food, takes place in early February. Less than 12 per cent of our income is spent on food. This year, Food Freedom Day took place on Feb. 12.
And, given how little we pay for our food, it is even more shocking to realize how little farmers get. For example, on a box of corn cereal costing $3.54, farmers will net approximately 11 cents. This year, as Ontario farmers are facing a truly difficult year, we need to do what we can to support them.
The 100-Mile Diet, often touted as an environmentally friendly way to eat, is also one that benefits local farmers. The more we seek out locally grown produce, and locally raised livestock for our tables, the healthier the local farming community will be. Instead of buying food that is imported cheaply from other nations — even as local food prices rise — let us think of supporting our local farmers first, every chance we get.
After all, our Waterloo Region farmers not only feed us, they support the local economy as well, purchasing goods and services in our region, and hiring workers for the harvest. And while our grocery bills may rise a bit as a result, we can rest easy, knowing that we are showing appreciation to those who deserve the most — the farmers who have laboured hard this, and every year, to keep us well-fed.