Young Female Organic Farmers as Externalities of Canada’s Industrial Food System?

Authors: Roseann Kerr*, Queen's University, Ayla Fenton, National Farmers Union, Canada, Erin Richan, National Farmers Union, Canada
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Canada, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Food System Change, Food Sovereignty, Gender, Agroecology  
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the last 25 years in Canada, a combination of trends including urbanization, linking of large farms to the industrial food system, policies promoting production of low-value commodities, and the decline in family farm succession (a result of the ongoing farm income crisis) have led to a decline in the number of farms and farmers, especially young farmers (Smithers & Sethuratnam, 2013). This paper will explore the subjectivities of young female ‘first-generation’ farmers who came to farming as a career choice. Their perspectives are important to consider because of their experiences of struggle to support their chosen career as well as to legitimize their identity as farmers in an often male or family dominated field. Despite the growing ‘local’ organic food movement, they identify barriers to success as small scale organic farmers in Canada’s current food system including the high price of farm land, lack of practical supports for regional economies, such as local abattoirs or grain mills, infrastructure for storing, preserving and processing farm produce, and regulatory obstacles, to name a few. Some have also identified competition among small farmers inherent in the capitalist system as a barrier. In their view, a move toward agro-ecology not only involves changing modes of food production, but also constitutes a proposal for restructuring our society by turning away from capitalism and patriarchy. By exploring the perspectives of young motivated female farmers, we can identify areas where policy incentives and systems of local organization can support females as they enter the farming profession.

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