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Trevor Herriot on transforming agriculture

Globalization and industrialization have driven agriculture to the margins of Saskatchewan’s economic and cultural life, converting farming into an undervalued activity that provides the raw material for food processing and delivery industries that provide unhealthy food to fuel an overheated, profligate, carbon-emitting economy. One way to transform Saskatchewan, renew our commitment to our treaties, and begin to share responsibility for, and wealth derived from, the gifts of the land, would be to elevate the growing of good food—healthy for people and the land—to the status it deserves at the centre of a more sane, moral, and sustainable economy.

Saskatchewan has the agricultural land base, climate, and know-how to lead the world in renewing the economics and ecology of growing food in the temperate zone. With the right tax policy, land reform and a community-based approach to sharing at least a portion of the wealth that comes from the use of all lands, private and public, Saskatchewan could begin to change from systems that provide incentives for the unsustainable exploitation of land to systems that produce food, fuel, and fiber while safeguarding farm lands and natural lands for the benefit of current and future generations.

To create a more just and ecologically sustainable agriculture, we need to transform the way individuals and communities divide the costs and benefits of using land. How? First, by creating policy, community-enforced regulations, and economic mechanisms that share the value of land–both privately-owned and Crown lands–with the surrounding community; Secondly, by reversing systems that incentivize the depletion of local resources while increasing income inequality and driving up the costs of land; and lastly by supporting agricultural practices that re-connect people and communities to the land in ways that create both wealth and ecological wellbeing (healthy water and soil, carbon sequestration, biodiversity).