NDP TO RITZ: DON’T DROP SUPPORT FOR FARMERS’ MARKETS Lack of proper funding threatens local farmers’ market industry
May 30, 2012
OTTAWA – New Democrats are backing a plea from Farmers’ Markets Canada (FMC) for federal leadership and funding support to keep the organization alive. The FMC was created by the federal government in partnership with the provinces, but is today collapsing due to a lack of support under the Conservative government.
“The Canadian government has invested $400,000 in the initiative over the past few years, but all of that money will go down the drain if the government forces the FMC to close its doors,” said NDP Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen (Welland).
“It’s hard to see why the Conservatives are denying support to an industry with so much potential. The popularity of farmers’ markets is at an all-time high. The government should be taking local farmers’ markets to the next level instead of hobbling national initiatives that would help the industry grow.”
Canadian demand for local food products has increased dramatically in recent years, with over 28 million shopper visits to farmers’ markets in 2008 alone. And with an impact in Canadian communities of close to a billion dollars in direct sales, farmers markets have an economic multiplier of at least three times that amount.
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko (BC - Southern Interior) also points out that while the farming population ages, local farmers markets are actually attracting more young people into farming.
“The average Canadian farmer is now 55 years old and preparing for retirement. It’s crucial to the future of Canadian agriculture that we invest in any area that is attracting the next generation.”
Atamanenko wrote a letter to Conservative Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz this week urging the government to allow Farmers’ Markets Canada to continue its important work.
“New Democrats are committed to working in full cooperation with the government to help move this important initiative forward,” said Atamanenko.
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