What if they all had a buy local policy?

Can local governments use their buying power to stimulate local food production? The municipality of Saanich will be giving preference to local producers when contracting out for catering and municipal services and events.

Can local governments use their buying power to stimulate local food production? The municipality of Saanich will be giving preference to local producers when contracting out for catering and municipal services and events. They are going even further and giving first preference to vendors with local products at festivals and are hoping to create a long-term marketplace for local producers. This is a great start to ensuring that the Saanich area will have a viable food economy no matter what happens in the global market.

The city of Vancouver has also taken large steps to becoming less dependent on foreign food with a series of initiatives, the latest one being “Lawns to Loafs,” a program that encourages people to replace their lawns with a plot of wheat. The city of Vancouver has created a grant process for those who are interested in taking on the urban agricultural projects, a move that has been very contentious as it is using tax money to allow people to try their hand at urban farming.

The Saanich project one could argue is a little more responsible because, rather than giving out tax money, it is creating a new market for farmers to sell into. It is responsible government for municipalities to encourage food security, but the citizens should not fully expect the tax payers to foot the bill for people to play backyard farmer. It would make more sense for the municipality to use its buying power to secure seed stock and then sell it to the people who wish to partake in the urban agricultural experiment.

If local food production is to be seen as a serious step in the right direction, not only do producers need the support from local government, they need the support of the business community and its voice the Chamber of Commerce. The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce has stepped up and said that the agriculture is a vital component to the economy. They took this message to the B.C. Chamber annual general meeting in Prince George where their agricultural policy was accepted unanimously.

Government has a role in supporting agriculture, and a responsibility to allow farmers and ranchers to do what they do, produce food. Government bureaucrats have a way of getting in the way of agriculture. With cities like Saanich and Vancouver moving towards embracing local agriculture, we might see a change in this trend. British Columbia is blessed with some of the most fertile land in the world yet we import so much of our food. If governments alone had a buying policy that was local first, we could see a larger local food production system.

Schools, hospitals, municipalities, regional districts and prisons make up some of the largest public sector markets. If they all had a buy local policy, we would see a secure local agricultural system that would have a market large enough to keep producers afloat during the ups and downs of the global market. Augmented with farmers’ markets, farm gate sales and other market options, farming and ranching could once again become viable and we could see the next generation stay on the farm or ranch rather than head to the cities or elsewhere for a future.

 

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read