Not just what, but how: Creating agricultural sustainability and food security by changing Canada's agricultural policy making process [Book Review]

Agriculture and Human Values 16 (2):187-202 (1999)
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Abstract

Agriculture has been enormously productive in recent decades. The main problem is that fragmentation of issues, knowledge, and responsibilities has hidden the costs associated with this success. These are mainly environmental, social, and health costs, which have been assigned to other ministries, with their own histories unconnected to agriculture. Now that agricultural policy has achieved its success, its costs are becoming apparent. The current system is preoccupied with traditional views of competitiveness and efficiency. Policies, programs, and regulations are organized to support specific commodities, not farming and food systems. Responsibilities are extremely fragmented and frequently uncoordinated. In this environment, the focus on nourishment, food security, and environmental sustainability is subordinated to economic issues.The future lies in reorienting agricultural policy away from maximum production and towards sustainability. We propose a major transformation of the policy making apparatus in order to shift the focus of the system towards nourishment, food security, and sustainability. A new policy making system must be built on the themes of: integrated responsibilities and activities; emphasis on macro-policy; transdisciplinary policy development; proximity of policy makers to the diverse groups affected by problems needing resolution; food systems policy.The design principles for such a new system are taken from the theory of food security and ecology. Using these principles, we design a new provincial department of food and food security, and test this design with two case studies

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