Greens miss science in ag

The Green Party’s platform mentions agriculture 18 times.

Bottom line: There is good, bad and ugly.

The “good”: The Greens would address “climate risk with the focus on disaster assistance” in Canada’s business risk management programs. (They should address market risk too.) They would encourage urban agriculture on rooftops and in school gardens. (OK, great.) They would support policies that address climate change. (This fits into all three categories.) And they would “protect the right of farmers to save their own seed.”

Fine then.

The “bad.” The Greens say “crops and livestock are produced for quantity and export, not quality and nutrition.” The second half of that sentence isn’t true and no one who is familiar with the science and economics of farming would say that.

This transitions to “ugly.”

There are repeated references to “industrial” or “factory” farms, which is an urban term implying bad practices. Yet the mixed sizes of grain farms have provided Canadians with one of the safest and securest food systems in the world and the opportunity to export, contributing to economic growth.

This “industrial” bias likely refers to videos of large animal operations teaming with poultry and hogs. (Perhaps feedlots for cattle).

The Greens say “factory farms crowd chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs into inhumane and unhygienic conditions, causing extreme water and air pollution, while creating the risk of food contamination and serious health threats.”

In truth, these large-scale livestock operations are under intense scrutiny for animal care and environmental standards, such as dealing with runoff.

Smaller scale operations would have a hard time managing runoff and the economics of scale would leave farmers poor, perhaps resulting in bad management.

The Greens would also “(shift) to mostly local, organic production.”

The feel-good rating of that is high, but enormous amounts of carbon would be released from the soil, and we wouldn’t have as much food, leading to lower exports. And with mostly small-scale production we wouldn’t have as many professional farmers who know how to raise animals and grow crops.

The Greens need to understand the science and economics of agriculture better. Their path would be less fuel and energy efficient, release more carbon into the atmosphere, and would likely reduce food production with no increase in food quality.

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