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Ask the Minister of Agriculture to Support Urban Agriculture!!

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The Honourable Gerry Ritz
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

1341 Baseline Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5

Dear Mr. Ritz:

I am writing in support of Paul Hughes of Calgary, who is currently fighting a legal battle to raise chickens in what is being called the “Canadian Right to Food Trial.” Mr. Hughes is calling attention to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which outlines the rights of every person to obtain the basic necessities of life including food. I believe promoting backyard chickens and other local organic urban agricultural practices helps improve the quality of life for many Canadians while ensuring that we meet the standards highlighted in Article 25. As a resident of Toronto (a city also debating by-laws regarding livestock) I know that raising chickens and growing food is desirable as an affordable method of increasing food security for citizens with access to spaces such as backyards, community gardens and rooftops.

Because many cities do not legally permit residents to raise chickens, many people in Canada are unable to access organic eggs and meat. More broadly, this issue is tied to the legal battle of Michael Schmidt's sale of raw milk and the rights of people in Canada to choose what quality of food they consume. People throughout the country are working towards increasing food's accessibility, acceptability, adequacy, agency and availability (five components which have been identified as essential by the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University). Most recently, the village of Pince in France is considering providing every interested household with two chickens to cut down food waste and help citizens access eggs.

As Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, you have the ability to draft and promote policy relating to public health and safety, and can challenge laws that prevent access to food. More than that, you can help physically support small-scale livestock and gardening projects by providing resources, education, and personnel to support community gardens and backyard gardeners. In The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, Wayne Roberts has said “there are so many benefits and paybacks [to urban agriculture] that every municipality should have at least one animator on staff to help animate and start gardens”. For larger cities, garden animators and educators can represent a growth of jobs and a new direction for Canada's environmental legacy.

I urge you to support Paul Hughes, back-yard chicken keeping, food security and organic agriculture. This can be done by publicly announcing your commitment to develop policies and programming that support individuals and families in Canada trying to achieve food security.


The Undersigned


French village to hand out chickens

Canadian Right to Food Trial

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