Farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole need to explain why they use the technology and practices they do, stresses the CEO of CropLife Canada.
As a voice for makers and distributors of plant protection and biotechnology products, Ted Menzies, the CEO of CropLife Canada, is no stranger to conversations about why agriculture needs to “earn a social license to operate.”
“We need to learn from those that have gone down this road before us — the oil and gas sector,” he suggests in the interview below. “They thought they could just carry on their business without explaining why it is they’re doing it. Oh by the way it’s going to heat your house or help you drive your car up and down the road.”
“Farmers are doing it better, but we need to now follow the lead and take time to talk to consumers and say ‘I’m producing a safe quality food for you and 150 other countries, and I’m doing it sustainably’,” says Menzies, a former federal MP.
Government policy decisions should still be based on scientific research, but “science tells us…” doesn’t cut it when explaining why a certain practice or technology is used, he says.
“Tell them why you as a farmer can grow a crop that can protect itself from insects or disease. Explain why you do that, and explain how that has allowed you to use less tillage, maintain moisture in the soil and protect wildlife. Tell them that story,” says Menzies.
He joined RealAg’s Shaun Haney at FarmTech to discuss the need to connect with consumers, the value of a predictable, “science-based” regulatory system (and what happens when one province makes their own rules) and how water scarcity could become a bigger part of discussions about ag’s social license: