Financing the transition
As discussed under Problems, Place, trade agreements have contributed to the continuing export focus of the Canadian food system and there is some evidence that the agreements have limited the ability of countries to set their own course with food system development. Some critics promote regional self-reliance and local food distribution as an alternative approach, in part because local/sustainable systems are thought to counter many of the negative effects of the industrial, global model, with enhanced regional economic development, environmental improvements, and a higher quality food supply the likely result (Bendavid-Val, 1991; MacRae et al., 2014a,b). This heightened interest in such food systems has analysts exploring the many policy obstacles and opportunities to enhance their development, including examining the role of trade agreements, both domestic and international (COG, 2007; Carter-Whitney, 2008; Friedmann, 2007).
Trade articles (see Instruments, International, Trade Agreements) in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], several WTO agreements, including the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), and in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (soon to be updated as the USMCA once ratified by all the countries) are commonly named by Canadian government officials as reasons not to support local procurement and domestic producers interested in transitioning to sustainable practices and marketing (Carter-Whitney, 2006).
So, given these realities, changes to the trade deals are required if nations, whether industrial or developing, are to set their own trajectories for food system development.