The deficit reduction measures that consumed discussions at the G20 summit in Toronto are no-brainers. Few can argue with globally agreed upon efforts to reduce the crushing debt that leaves borrowers with a chronic black cloud over their heads, and lenders wondering if they’ll ever get their money back. It would irresponsible for world leaders to avoid it, given the economy’s still-fragile comeback and experts’ warnings that we are far from out of the woods.

But that said, there’s more to life than deficit reduction. It’s not what protesters or police put life and limb on the line for at the summit. I believe in their respective ways, they were stepping up for democracy and all it entails, although their definitions of it were appreciably different.

For example, people rail against deficit reduction when it makes the vulnerable elements of society even more exposed than they already are. To me, that’s something to peacefully protest against. And by the same token, it’s something to defend.

However, even moving the public opinion meter on domestic versus imported food pales in comparison to the effort needed to move the world toward real support for some of the most vulnerable members of our global society – that is, the poverty-stricken souls in underdeveloped countries. People might be surprised to learn upwards of 80 per cent of them are farmers … not farmers as we know them in North America, but rather subsistence farmers who grow food for their own family and a few others.

These farmers are not a threat to our agricultural sector. They are not an enemy of Canada’s economy, or anyone else’s. Rather, they are people who would truly benefit from a global investment in agriculture.

I write about the need to keep them in sight in today’s Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury.

The photo below, from the Agriterra website, depicts rural life in Burkina Faso.