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2018 Summer - Should society determine the right to farm?

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FPJ1504B - Lush, D (2018),The right to farm versus the right to choose: society is having the final say

FPJ1504B - Lush, D (2018), The right to farm versus the right to choose: society is having the final say, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 15, no. 4, Summer 2018, pp. 4-11, Surry Hills, Australia.

With an increasing gap between city and country and increasing scrutiny of farming, society is already determining the right to farm. The debate over the right to farm will continue to take place on the ‘should we’ questions: what are the values, what are the ethics, should farmers and the food system be doing what they are doing? Since farmers do not have as much contact with consumers as others in the food system, an openness to the genuine questioning of practices will require a huge mind shift.
Farmers may believe they have a right to farm, but equally the market has a right not to buy their products. If transparency is the key to building trust, maintaining a social licence and overcoming right to farm issues, we need to consider if agriculture is prepared for transparency, which may also require changes to industry or farm practices.
The agriculture sector must upskill producers in engagement and leading with shared values to build trust rather than providing more science and data which, while important, will not win hearts and minds of the general public. It is time to look at a new approach for agriculture and a new way of engaging. Farmers may believe they have a right to farm, but equally the market has a right not to buy their products. If transparency is the key to building trust, maintaining a social licence and overcoming right to farm issues, we need to consider if agriculture is prepared for transparency, which may also require changes to industry or farm practices.

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