Newfoundland and Labrador food producers, and consequently consumers, encounter unique market conditions compared to other Canadians. The province’s diffuse population, short growing season, isolation from the mainland, and relatively remote location from productive agricultural centers combine to create complex pressures on agricultural production and food prices. This multi-faceted project encompasses three primary sub-projects to explore issues of food security, food sovereignty, and food justice in north Atlantic island ecosystems and cultures through an economic research lens.
The first sub-project of this research, “Economic Feasibility of Potential Crops/Cropping Systems in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Preliminary Analysis,” is a preliminary economic feasibility study of crops/cropping systems considered to be of high interest to Newfoundland and Labrador to advance commercialization and prioritize areas for additional technical study. It will take place in four phases over 12 months and is supported, in part, by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources AgriFoods Development Branch. Through the course of the research, Dr. Catherine Keske will model the economic feasibility of various cropping systems as an important step towards increasing the commercialization of specific agricultural products suited to growing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
It is expected that the research will meet the following milestones:
-Expand upon the scale and scope of AgriFoods provincial development budgets for growing wheat, barley, potatoes, forage, or silage crops in NL.
-Deliver sensitivity analysis of inputs and market variables that most highly influence probability
-Create stochastic enterprise budgets to consider agricultural risk, determine scenarios under which a NL farmer may grow these crops profitably
-Develop technical ranking criteria to select crops and scenarios for pilot agronomic study in consultation with BERI scientistics and provincial AgriFoods representatives.
Modeling the economic feasibility of various cropping systems in this way will be an important step towards increasing the commercialization of certain agricultural products in NL which may contribute to stable long-term consumer food prices and advance the province’s agricultural sector development.
More details can be found in this Western Star Interview with Diane Crocker: Researcher looking at cost effectiveness, commercial viability of growing food locally. March 25, 2015. http://www.thewesternstar.com/News/Local/2015-03-25/article-4088458/Researcher-looking-at-cost-effectiveness%2C-commercial-viability-of-growing-food-locally/1
The second sub-project of this research is a manuscript submission to the journal Justice Spatiale/Spatial Justice special issue on Food Justice and Agriculture titled “Food justice in far-away lands: the connectivity of food security, food sovereignty, and food justice in boreal ecosystems.” This paper is a case study of the Sainte-Pierre et Miquelon, France food system. The paper communicates our position that the geographic isolation between Saint-Pierre et Miquelon and the mainland can be used to illustrate the complex connectivity between food security, food sovereignty, and food justice in boreal ecosystem communities. Through an analysis of the study region the research team believes that there is opportunity for rural communities in boreal ecozones to attain spatial food justice if food security goals can be balanced with mindfulness to food sovereignty. If the basic ‘right to food’ is maintained, then food security goals will be balanced over time and spatial justice will be facilitated.
Research for this paper was completed by Dr. Catherine Keske and Master’s Student Jennifer Brook Dare. It was translated to French for submission to this bilingual document by Grenfell Campus French studies faculty member Tiffany Hancock.
The final sub-section of this research is a book project that compiles previously completed research on Newfoundland Food Systems. Dr. Catherine Keske leads this anthology project with guidance from Lynn Phillips set for publication in 2016.