PICTOU – County council needs to do everything in its power to help support small family farms, Coun. Robert Parker said at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Pictou County councillor Robert Parker
County council approved a motion put forward by Parker to support the United Nations’ 2014 International Year of Family Farming initiative.
“We can only do so much, but we can influence others,” he says of county council.
The campaign is promoted by the World Rural Forum and declared by the United Nations.
It’s meant to bring attention to family farming and its role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, achieving sustainable development, protecting the environment and managing natural resources.
They define family farming as a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production, which is managed, operated and predominantly laboured by families.
If the United Nations recognizes it, it must be valuable, Parker notes.
He says the policies in place work against those trying to make a living off smaller operations, elaborating that they can be cast as hobby farms leaving them without access to financial help.
“If there weren’t people who want to farm, I wouldn’t push it.”
Parker says he knows of two people in District 5 who tried hard to make it work, but couldn’t get the storage or help they needed, forcing them to relocate.
He doesn’t wish to discriminate against agriculture giants.
“It’s not either or.”
However, he says there has been a shift towards large-scale farming.
The decline of family farming has changed the social and cultural fabric, Parker says.
Not only do family farms produce locally grown healthy food, they contribute a certain set of values, he says.
“It’s the way of life I think we’ve lost.”
A few councillors agreed it was a good idea, but brought up that the country is heavily involved in free trade.
He believes meetings should be held with farmers to identify the roadblocks.
“What are they? What would they like to see changed?”
He suggested sending a letter to the agriculture minister as well.
“Bigger is not always better,” Parker says, adding that they need to get that through to the government.
He notes that the Regional Enterprise Networks could help as well, and says he’s very disappointed with how long the start-up is taking for the economic development groups.
Council also approved a motion to send a letter expressing concern over the lack of action with getting RENs up and writing to the minister responsible for rural development, Michel Samson.
A report in late 2012 recommended creating six RENs to replace the 12 Regional Development Agencies throughout the province.
Their purpose is to bring together business communities, the province, municipalities and other groups involved with economic development.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda