Deanna's cover image
Deanna

Deanna Lush

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: South Australia Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
None > Agriculture
Agriculture > Crops And Irrigation
Agriculture > General
To investigate communication, education and engagement methods to improve understanding of agriculture - Canada, USA, UK
Download

Keywords: agriculture, farmers, social license, building trust, social responsibility, activism

Conclusions and Recommendations

The insights generated about the consumer disconnect with agriculture and the need to build trust in food producers presents a compelling case for action. Building trust takes time to develop and requires a demonstrated track record of alignment between words and actions. The US, UK and Canada all are further along on the journey to build public trust in agriculture than Australia. Their agricultural communities seem to have a better understanding of the importance of agricultural promotion and outreach and seem more motivated than Australia to support and fund such activities.

The key difference between Australia and Canada and the US in particular was that there were national, cross‐commodity organisations with the sole focus of building trust in agriculture and food producers. These not‐for‐profit organisations were supported financially and in the work they undertake by the whole food value chain – including farmers, ranchers, food companies, universities, non‐governmental organisations, restaurants, retailers and food processors. This displayed a united front to those not directly involved with food production and gave consumers a ‘one‐stop‐shop’ for food answers. Aside from the national approach, every commodity and state agricultural organisation encountered had a financial commitment to build trust, either through supporting a cross‐commodity approach or through their own program – or, in many cases, both.

Ultimately, there is a place for everyone in Australian food production to build trust in the industry. With majority of Australians disconnected from agriculture, everyone in the industry has a role to play from discussions with friends and family through to leading or guiding efforts on the sector’s behalf. One of the key strengths overseas was the recognition that the battle would not be won by one individual or organisation, it was a collective – even altruistic – approach. After extensive research and meetings with people involved in building trust overseas, the following recommendations have been made:

  1. There is a demonstrated need to engage with a broader cross‐section of the community on practices surrounding food production. Hence, the Australian agricultural industry needs to start raising awareness of the potential scale of the issue and the need to be proactive. A farmer‐focused campaign is needed to highlight the necessity to engage a public audience on food production and the importance of shared values to trust.
  2. A cross‐commodity organisation focused on building trust needs to be established. It will also increase the involvement of other food system stakeholders, increase the number of people involved in the strategy and tactics of building trust, and increase the pool of funders to carry out activities.
  3. The Australian industry needs a whole of value chain steering committee and framework on building trust. The committee will provide a forum where each industry can learn from the other and receive support. The framework would acknowledge a joint industry commitment ‘to do the right thing’, to leverage our quality assurance and food safety systems, and communicate these objectives to the general public.
  4. Australia needs a national network of well trained and prepared spokespeople across all agricultural commodities. Investing in building credible spokespeople and equipping them with the knowledge of how to engage with non‐agricultural audiences is one of the most immediate ways organisations can act to build trust. Training needs to go beyond one‐day workshops to engage our current and future spokespeople in a more meaningful and longterm way.
  5. Action to build trust must be a line in the budget of every organisation with a financial stake in the continued profitability of the agriculture industry – either cross‐commodity or commodity‐specific activities. Levels of funding should better reflect the risk that a loss of trust would mean to the industry.

Finally, the initiatives of many cross‐commodity organisations in the US and Canada in particular have been built by passionate, long‐stayers in the industry. Charlie Arnot from the US Center for Food Integrity, Kim McConnell from the Canadian CFI, Kay Johnson Smith from Animal Ag Alliance, Kelly Daynard at Farm & Food Care and Randy Krotz at US Farmers and Ranchers all have long histories in campaigns to build public trust in agriculture. They all have established relationships with the commodity organisations in Canada and the US which means they are in a position to be a trusted voice on their behalf. Identifying and developing these people in the Australian industry should be a priority for the industry to ensure the skills and expertise it requires now and into the future are available.


In 2018, Deanna Lush won the John Ralph Essay Competition which, was largley drawed upon the findings of her Churchill Fellowship. This essay can be viewed in the link below:

http://www.farminstitute.org.au/news-and-events/FPJ_Summer2018_JRC_Winner2.pdf

Related fellows
Jonathan Craven, Jonathan
Agriculture > General
2015
Gina Dal Santo, Gina
Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
2015
Paul Gibson Roy, Paul
Agriculture > Crops And Irrigation
2015
Emma Robinson, Emma
Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
2014
Elena Swegen, Elena
Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
2014
Nicholas Rose, Nicholas
Agriculture > General
2013
Karen Barry, Karen
Agriculture > Crops And Irrigation
2012
Emily RYVES, Emily
Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
2011
Damien O'SULLIVAN, Damien
Agriculture > Crops And Irrigation
2009
Alan IRISH, Alan
Agriculture > Meat And Dairy
2007