January 16, 2012

Is living a rural lifestyle as a Catholic family on the land, providing safe, healthy meats and produce to families who are unable to do so for themselves intrinsically valuable? Yes.

With rising staple food prices fuelling the 2011 unrest and riots in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen, questions focusing on global food security have reached a new level.

Food security experts are calling for the establishment of sustainable, equitable local food economies in lieu of centralized corporate food distribution networks that are extremely vulnerable to global economic fluctuations.

The intrinsic value for the Catholic family living on the land, as well as for those families being served, is considerable. If this is so – and it is worldwide – how can we as a people of faith look after a population best described as an endangered species without the benefit of protective legislation?

Can family farms be the local food source? In Western Canada, the question arises whether or not there are sufficient family farms remaining to meet this need.

The 1998-2002 Stats Canada's report says 40 per cent of family farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan disappeared in that four-year period. These farms were replaced by corporate farming, not surprisingly, for it was corporate-sponsored legislation that led to their demise.

Ever wonder what will happen to rural Alberta? Who will own our countryside? Who will care for the land? Who will hold the art of farming knowledge and on what terms . . . who will produce our food?

The well-being of this present generation of farm families must be our focus. We must act in faith now so that future generations of Catholic family farmers have an opportunity to exist.

Timothy Axe