Agriculture and social licence are we setting ourselves up to fail?

This week AgChatOz will invite participants to reflect on and share their insights and opinions on social licence

AgchatozVery topical with the NSW Government recently taking out this one page infographic the Telegraph. My previous blog on this issue can be found here 

Greyhound Industry

Having identified a huge gap in agriculture consumer engagement programs eight years ago Art4Agriculture made maintaining agriculture’s social licence our core business and created The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions programs.

This week I showcased what we do at the Future Cotton Leaders dinner and the IGen session at the 2016 Cotton Conference. After the IGen session the Young Farming Champions in the audience told me the most common comment they heard around the room was “I hadn’t thought of it like that”

We talk about social licence a lot in agriculture. Its like the words ‘climate change’, lots of people have heard of it, too few understand it and acknowledge its not a right its a privilege and know what it takes to maintain that privilege.

This recent talk by Kim Williams AM titled: The unwavering march of general ignorance  at the Alumni Speaker Series on 21 July 2016 has some very wise words for agriculture.

‘We have witnessed the largest power transfer in human history. I refer to the unprecedented transfer of power from producers and authorities to consumers, or as I prefer, citizens. The significance of this shift is difficult to exaggerate. Impossible to stop.

Those who ignore the essential elements of change, where citizens are now increasingly in charge, are destined to fail. Those who enter this new environment openly, with a determination to adjust and adapt, have the best opportunity to prosper. ‘

Some many of our industries have so much to be proud of, but with respect to social licence maintenance too many are relying on the underlying belief that everyone who wears the title ‘Farmer’ will do the right thing. Farmers are people, in the main when we stuff up its because of ignorance – been there done that myself.

It’s time all farmers stood up and said “We all want industry defined standards and guidelines and auditable industry driven QA systems because its important to us and our business and our industry and Brand Australia that we can show our customers we are committed to doing the right thing”

People often say the world is changing. This misses the point. The world is not changing – it has changed. Forever. …..Kim Williams AM July 2016 

I found this documentary from Canada which poses the question “Will farmers stand up and share their story or will they stay silent and lose their licence to farm” well worth the watch


Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

2 thoughts on “Agriculture and social licence are we setting ourselves up to fail?”

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful work on social licence in agriculture. I also recently addressed it at the Rural Press Club in Queensland, and the speech can be found on their facebook or Futureye’s if you would like to read it. My main point supports yours, we need skills in the agricultural sector to create and action a successful strategy. However, I don’t think standards alone are the answer. I have seen the roundtables for sustainable commodities go down this path and it doesn’t deliver the impacts that people want to see. There are many leading thinkers trying to argue for a beyond certification model where improved models and reduced impacts are focused on. We think there is a way of achieving this through Gamification at a farmer level. I also think it requires significant transparency about the current issues and engagement about the the best way forward. I am currently trying to pull together a multi stakeholder initiative to deal with Bobby calves in a more transparent way that builds social licence for a new market. I am keen to keep the conversation going.

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