By Sandra Campbell, Little Oaks Dairies As a grass roots, gumboot wearing farmer, social licence to me means to be a good human. That means to act responsibly with the land we are the caretakers of and the community and country we are a part of.
Social licence in the agricultural community is multi-level. It includes producers right through the supply chain to our processors and distributors. Working out who I personally influence and the impact my actions, and those of our business, have on our industry’s social licence is complex. I suspect the circle we influence is much larger than we think. Case in point, the Womens Environmental Evening. It grew from an idea to get some more women along to our local meetings. In turn 160 women joined in the journey and those 160 women now have knowledge to both share and put into action. The success of the evening was because our community is connected and on board. They can see the need to get everyone rowing in the same direction. We all may be driven for different reasons but in order for our industry to be successful we need to work together.
The environmental changes, regulations and rules coming at the farming community currently are daunting and are often framed negatively. What if we turned that on its head and looked at it from a positive perspective? One where we can learn and connect with our community and improve our environment along the way? In my mind I often relate it to a husband and wife arguing. If we are arguing and not working collaboratively we’re wasting our time and being unproductive. But if we are working together and having robust discussions we will ultimately be more effective. We have an opportunity at a grass roots level to 'stop, collaborate and listen', as Vanilla Ice would say, and make meaningful change.