By Kate Scott, Founder and Executive Director of Landpro and 2018 Nuffield Scholar.
Late last month I had the pleasure of sharing some of my Nuffield experience and my research with an amazing group of women in Clinton who had come together simply out of their collective interest in understanding more about agriculture and the environment. I want to congratulate them all for making the time to seek to better understand one of the greatest challenges, yet one of the greatest opportunities that they will face within their farming businesses over the next few years. Now it shouldn’t come as any surprise just how interrelated agriculture and the environment are, we simply can’t have one without the other, and we need a strong healthy environment if we want to have a strong healthy agricultural sector. If we consider this proposition alongside changing consumer preferences, which have shifted over the past few years to place greater emphasis on the importance of sustainably produced food, then you start to get to the point of just how big a role the environment is going to play in agriculture into the future for a number of years to come. This is where the matter of social licence comes about. With increased public scrutiny about our practices on-farm, both from an environmental and animal welfare perspective, we will continue to see increased pressure from both the consumer and the public to do a better job at a farm level. The expectations placed on us to do a better job are encapsulated by the concept of social licence, which no doubt Penny is much better at explaining that I am, but essentially our action (or inaction) in terms of our environmental performance will dictate whether we are considered to be responsible producers or not. Whilst it’s easy to think about the negative aspects of this mounting change, I am of the view that New Zealand Agriculture sits on the cusp of an amazing opportunity to be the most sustainable agricultural nation in the world. Provided that we continue to embrace transformational change, which will ultimately lead to enabling better environmental outcomes in agriculture, including operating from a position of high social licence. Key recommendations from my Nuffield Report are:
Facilitate robust conversation & engagement
Set strategy & goals
Enable collaborative science, technology & data
Re-design policy approach.
To find out more about my findings click here.