Food Production Must Remain Essential

October 15, 2021 | Paul Bootsma

Food Production Must Remain Essential

More and more, there is hope that we are coming out of the pandemic of the last 18 months. But as the dust settles, we are reminded that for every action there is a reaction, whether anticipated or not.

The actions of the federal and provincial governments were intended to protect all Canadians and prevent tragic consequences from the covid-19 virus. This commentary is not meant to prove those actions right or wrong. We’ll let history determine that. Since March 2020, public funds have been distributed to assist people, families, businesses and industries to get through this pandemic. Now in October 2021, we are feeling some of the consequences of these government assistance programs.

Governments determined what was essential for the survival of society through the looming pandemic, and food production was included on this list. Toilet paper wasn’t but consumers sure thought it was. As a result, processing plants and the agricultural support industry kept going; however, they needed to adjust to the safety protocols that were required for worker safety. Months later, we began to realize how far into the economy food production reaches.

Today we read articles written about container shortages, parts shortages, electronics shortages and more. Stores hide the fact of these missing products by spreading items across the shelves. The labour shortage is a top concern list: a recent news report indicated that half of Canadian businesses are having trouble finding employees.

There is more and more concern about food shortages across the globe, as COVID-19 has exacerbated an already upward trend in food insecurity. There are many reasons for the increase, including processing closures, labour and supply shortages, reduced income and more. Many are expressing concern for our economy and the supply of needed items.

Obviously, we need a structured plan to assist businesses and industries out of the current challenges from the pandemic. What is also needed is assurance from the governments that essential needs, such as food and food production, remain essential and will receive the support and funding needed to get back into full production. The agriculture industry has weathered the pandemic, but past the farm gate is where things got out of sync. It will take a coordinated effort to get the system moving again and functioning without support.

Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.