Local Food Legislation Passed Unanimously at Queen’s Park
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
A new piece of provincial legislation sings the tune ‘Good Things Grow in Ontario,’ a slogan which became popular in the 2008 Foodland Ontario, provincial government television commercials. Ontario passed the Local Food Act, Bill 36, aimed at promoting local food in the province. The legislation passed third reading, with multiparty support at Queen’s Park, Tuesday. Ontario is the first province in Canada to have such a food law.
It’s been a long time coming, for the food legislation. The bill died in Oct. 2012 when the legislature was prorogued. The bill was re-introduced March 25, 2013.
There are three main purposes of the legislation:
• Support local food economies throughout the province
• Increase awareness of local food in the province
• Encourage the development of new markets for food grown in Ontario
While all three parties can take credit for strengthening the Act, the PC party is touting its accomplishments in successfully putting forward three amendments to the food bill. These amendments include:
• Maintaining Ontario Agriculture Week, while supporting the creation of Local Food Week, the first week in June
• Creating a 25 per cent tax credit for farmers who donate agricultural products to food banks or food programs
• Expanding the definition of local food to also include forest and freshwater foods
However, the PC’s amendment to make food education mandatory in schools, to increase food literacy didn’t prevail. “It’s tough to believe that the government really wants to promote local food when they won’t get behind such a common sense idea,” said Ernie Hardeman, PC Critic for Agriculture and Food, in a statement.
A number of agricultural stakeholders are in support of the Local Food Act, including farm lobby group, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). “The Local Food Act will serve as a constant reminder of the bounty of Ontario,” said Mark Wales, President of OFA, in a statement.
Ontario’s agri-food sector contributes $34 billion to the economy, which supports more than 740,000 jobs. The legislation will come into effect in spring, 2014.