Selling what we make in the regions it is produced in, instead of exporting everything, is what we call bioregional. Export markets were the solution for hundreds of years and still have their place in modern economies.
Food is different because of the powerful economic multiplier that occurs with trade within regions. Exports of food are sold at wholesale prices which barely cover farm cash costs. Domestic sales increase the price received by farmers and have a huge economic multiplier effect in the regional economy.
The farm-to-export model that dominates grain on the Prairies is not effective for vegetables and fruits (discussed more in future blog posts). Food sales just within the people living in the above regions, is worth Hundreds of Millions a year. Just organic carrot sales through retail are $ 29 Million a year in Canada (see Vegetable Brochure, Organic Value Chain Roundtable). Currently we are giving 80% of this market away. WHY?!
We need to dramatically increase small urban vegetable farms in the Thompson-Okanagan and in BC and in Canada. Not only will this increase organic food security but it will create tremendous economic activity and prosperity without increasing public debt.
Bio-regional trade in food is more appropriate for the times we live. We import carrots from California priced in expensive USA dollars when we could grow all we need here in BC. That is the way to economic ruin.
The 2016 census showed farm numbers declining in BC by over 11% in just 5 years, double the national decline. These are the chemical/industrial growers going broke because of input costs and sales for export at cheap prices. At the same time, young urban farmers selling directly to consumers, are increasing in numbers.
BIOREGIONAL is the key trade model to adopt in a climate-challenged world. This is part of the trio of key principles our company is adopting to help build organic food security:
Why don’t we apply these proven principles within the Thompson – Okanagan bioregion?