Prescriptive vs. outcome-based policy is failing agriculture


If I buy the best golf club, am I the best golfer? By the same token, if someone plants a cover crop, are they taking better care of soil health than someone who doesn’t?

Not necessarily, says Shaun Haney, founder of RealAgriculture and host of RealAg Radio.

The trouble is, policy can be prescriptive (i.e., you must do this to comply), or outcome-based (i.e. here is our final goal, how you get there is up to you).

When it comes to soil health, carbon sequestration, environmental policy, and fertilizer management, Canada’s policies seem to be all over the map. There are outcome-based goals — emissions reductions — but there is also a heavy weight put on prescriptive actions, such as cover crops.

As Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson and Shaun Haney discuss below, without a full understanding and respect of the full biological system and key data points to draw from (proof of the outcome, if you will), Canada’s agriculture industry is set to spin its wheels on making real change while remaining productive and competitive.

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