EVIDENCE MEETS EMOTION
The Australian Farm Institute’s is an open forum for those with an interest in agricultural policy. The day’s sessions on animal welfare, environmental policy, community trust and agricultural statistics ran from 9 am – 5 pm. Followed directly by an evening session from 6 pm, ‘The Right to Farm’ – After Hours Forum, which included food, cocktails and time for networking along with the topic discussion.
The 2018 Agriculture Roundtable was held in Canberra to coincide with the National Farmers’ Federation Congress as well as the Farmer of the Year and Rural Women’s Awards and Rural Leadership Foundation gala. Combined, these events ensure that agriculture provides a strong voice to those that most need to hear; debating issues, discussing solutions and celebrating success in the sector.
Many of today’s agricultural policy issues are emotive and personal. Animal welfare and environmental sustainability, for instance, are both issues that draw out passionate responses from core personal belief systems – and also attract considerable regulation. However, most people would agree that regulation should be based on evidence rather than personal belief. So how do you temper emotion with facts to have a constructive discussion that leads to workable policy outcomes? And what if the evidence is patchy or in dispute?
The Australian Agriculture Roundtable put forward the proposition that agricultural policy must be evidence-based, not emotion-driven. It featured a range of speakers talking about why that may not be as easy or as obvious as it sounds, whether the facts are there to support arguments and what agriculture needs to do to ensure that policy development is rational and workable.
KEYNOTE: Bernie Hobbs – 9:10am
Animal Welfare – 10:00am
Farmers are responsible for the welfare and husbandry of the animals under their care, but you can’t ask a chook if it’s happy. How should we assess animal welfare to provide community assurance and maintain viable animal agriculture systems?
Community Trust – 11:30am
Farmers rank amongst the most trusted professionals – apart from when they are trying to make a profit. How can farmers win or earn back the community’s trust?
Environmental Policy – 2:00pm
It is becoming increasingly possible to quantify the interaction and impact of human activity on the natural environment, but how should we determine an acceptable level of impact? What level of managed environment is acceptable to the community which also needs food and fibre?
Ag Statistics – 3:45pm
It is no use campaigning for evidence-based policy if you don’t have the data to back it up. We need to collaboratively improve our agricultural data collection and analysis. Where does the data come from to support policy positions?
‘The Right to Farm’ – After Hours Forum – 6:00pm
The right to farm describes the ability for farmers to undertake lawful agricultural practices without conflict or interference, but the differentiation between a legal right and a social privilege has become blurred. Increasingly, primary production practices are being dictated by neighbours, activists and political representatives without a connection to or understanding of agriculture.
What degree of influence should a community have on its food production systems?
, Science communicator
, Farmer & Nuffield Scholar
, CEO, RSPCA Australia
, Managing Director, Australian Eggs
, CEO, Farmers For Climate Action
, CEO, Queensland Farmers Federation
, Special Counsel at McCullough Robertson,
President of the Rural Press Club of Qld
, Managing Director, AgCommunicators
, CEO, Australian Forest Products Association
, CEO, Camm Agricultural Group
, Professor – School of Humanities, University of Adelaide
, Assistant secretary and Chief Commodity Analyst, ABARES
, Marketing Leader, Tripod
, Executive Director, AFI
AG & RURAL FOCUS WEEK