On August 13th Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to assist farmers, ranchers, small businesses and communities by buying $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish. The meat will be used in federal food nutrition programs and food banks.
Although much of Canada has avoided the worst of the drought, farmers in Ontario and Quebec are appealing to the federal government to offer assistance with feed costs. Ontario Minister of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin has asked Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to assist livestock producers through the AgriRecovery framework.
Any temporary relief can only be a stopgap measure, as long-range forecasts predict drought conditions will become increasingly common and severe. While responding to immediate needs in the livestock industry, governments need to work with that sector to address environmental impacts issues that will only increase if global demand for meat continues to rise.
Food security involves all parts of the food system, from seed to plate. Placing this year’s drought in the context of a warming planet raises significant, long-range questions. One of them is whether or not humans should be eating meat at all. That is a large and contentious issue. Two Care2 posts published in 2010 still do a good job of exploring the associated aspects of the question:
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