The debate around regenerative agriculture is heating up and if those involved are not careful, they could create a chasm preventing or slowing progress for the sustainable creation of food and ultimately agriculture’s earning of its social licence to operate.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture and end-goal - the betterment of NZ’s agricultural production system to grow food sustainably and in line with consumers' values. That can’t happen if we don’t allow a safe space for people to try new things or ask for more evidence. Fear of being misunderstood or quashed by differing views and values is a breeding ground for slowing or preventing progress, which ultimately means resources.
Farmers need the freedom to use any of the tools available to them to grow food sustainably without being discouraged or seen as a pariah. It shouldn’t be a ‘one or the other’ situation that ends up forcing people to pick a side. No one system or way is better than the other because farming is so unique to the land and climate you operate in and the values that people operate under.
Farmers are naturally curious and experimental beings. They're very capable of picking and trying different techniques that work within their own system. Let them try and make their own minds up.
To earn and maintain one’s social licence requires an openness to try new things, change, and be wrong, then try again. Stomping on new ideas or tried and proven ways of doing things misses the point entirely – that the status quo isn’t working and we can't fix it alone.
To earn the social licence to operate requires the agricultural industry to be much more collaborative and inclusive than it ever has been before. Working together to help farmers find the right tools to grow food in-line with consumers values, be it regenerative or otherwise.