Family farm in spotlight by UN decree

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2014 campaign to highlight potential to eradicate hunger, preserve resources

Skye View Farms

There is another reason to consider 2014 an historic year on P.E.I. We are all aware of the 150th anniversary this year of the Charlottetown Conference which led to Confederation. And as thousands of guests and visitors flock to our province, they are sure to enjoy the pastoral country scenes all across the province. Those scenes are recognized around the globe in countless calendar pictures, postcards, advertising and photographs, all because of the family farm which has been the foundation of this province since well before Confederation.

Now, the United Nations has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. The UN has launched a campaign to highlight the potential of family farmers to eradicate hunger, preserve natural resources and promote sustainable development. The designation is tailor-made for P.E.I., probably more so than any other province in Canada because we have such a high percentage of our land under cultivation. It’s true that many P.E.I. family farms have incorporated for business and taxation reasons but families still own and operate those farms which have been passed down from generation to generation.

In a recent online survey conducted by the Task Force on Land Use Policy, Islanders made it abundantly clear they stand shoulder to shoulder with P.E.I.’s family farmers. There was a strong response to the survey indicating a keen interest in the future of land use in the province. A key finding of the survey indicated that a majority believe that the best farmland should be kept in agriculture and not open for any kind of development. They want the family farm to continue to be the guardian and custodian of the land and to pass it down to following generations largely intact.

The goal of the UN designation is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agenda. Rural P.E.I. has taken a back seat in recent years and this UN designation for 2014 offers a chance to hammer home the fact that family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in food production. Hopefully, the recognition given to family farming in 2014 will help bring about more favourable public policies that take into account the economic importance of the family farm on P.E.I.

 

Flu season threatens P.E.I.

It took a while arriving, just in time for the holidays actually, but the first case of influenza for the 2013-2014 Prince Edward Island flu season was confirmed just before Christmas. While the flu hasn’t been a major issue in this province yet, it is dominating the news in Alberta and Saskatchewan and now Ontario. There have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases in Alberta where more than eight people have died.

The fear is P.E.I. could soon be at greater risk because of the large numbers of Islanders who work in Alberta and fly home on a regular basis. That interaction had slowed over the holidays but is picking up once again. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders to follow the necessary measures to prevent and control the spread of infection, including getting the annual flu shot. People who feel they are healthy and don’t need a shot are being advised to get one because they might accidentally infect the elderly, the very young or others at risk. The most prevalent strain is the Influenza A H1N1, one of the three that the current vaccine protects against. It is not too late to get the flu shot, says Morrison. It is better to be safe, if not for yourself, then with the health of others.

Organizations: United Nations

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Alberta Canada Saskatchewan Ontario

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