Agriculture is the backbone of our food system. Crops and livestock provide most of our calories and proteins, while agriculture and related industries play a crucial role in the life of our economy. Nationally, the food and farming sector accounts for 8% of GDP and 1 in 8 jobs. Within the province of Ontario food and farming competes with the auto industry as the largest sector of the economy.
On average, food travels 3,500 km to reach Thunder Bay and the storage, refrigeration, packaging and transportation involved generates waste and burns a large amount of fuel. The food system’s high energy inputs, such as fossil fuels and fertilizers account for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale. Localizing food production would go a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, having a stronger farming sector would mean being less vulnerable to rising food costs associated with increasing energy prices, loss of agricultural land due to development and erosion, and the impact of climate change—all of which threaten long-term access to imported food.
Producing more food in the area for sale in local markets would mean creating jobs, generating tax dollars, and having an impact on the wider economy through connections with other businesses, such as retail, manufacturing, construction, and transportation.