There is a growing momentum in the world as we approach World Food Day – October 16th, 2014. It is a time set aside to recognize the value of the family farm (it is also the year of the International Year of Family Farming) and the contributions of small land holdings. World Food Day is a day of remembrance for the founding of the United Nations (UN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This year is especially exciting as the theme Family Farming, Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth resonates with us all.
In Canada, 98% of farms are family farms. They vary in size and production but all are committed to better food product for their communities in a way that contributes to the environment in which they live. They know the value of their work and the economic benefits of agriculture to a family, community and nation.
Every farm contributes to the food chain. Local food, traded food, processed food and exported food all benefit a nation. Canada, one of the production bread baskets of the world, is also a leader in food processing, which allows for food to be transported to those who need it most. In fact, food processing is a higher contributor to the GDP than manufacturing and this is important. It means we are a nation dependent on food: taking food from the field to the hungry. Canadian farmers are so dedicated that they give unconditionally and at last count had contributed nearly $12 million annually to the food grains bank alone.
It is not just trade or aid that transforms a nation, it is knowledge sharing. And there are thousands of organizations worldwide who know that to feed a nation you must first kindly teach a nation. From drawing a picture in the sand to the implementation of the newest in science or technology, it is our responsibility as farmers to share what we know so that others may also live the cherished life we do.
I proudly own a family farm and just as proudly share it with the world as we host international visitors throughout the year. The draw is not size or scope – it is the environment and the sharing of knowledge so that both visitor and host may grow. This belief of a broader world in farming is reflected in a quote of my own “Farming is without the restraint of border, class, gender, location, income, religion, culture or politics.” Generous by nature – farmers are the best advocates for each other.
There is a solution for poverty. There is a cure for hunger. It is called farming.
As we celebrate World Food Day there are many campaigns to bring awareness to the value of the family farm. I will be featured on World Food Day posters in Irish schools bearing the quote of my grandfathers, which says:
“Once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”
As farmers, we will bring our message to the world so they may hold in reverence the hands that feed them.