Summer 2018, Vol. 15, No. 4

John Ralph Essay Competition 2018:
Should society determine the right to farm?

Trust, or more accurately a general lack of trust, in government, business, media and NGOs continues to be a significant issue in 2018. Agriculture is not immune from this lack of trust and is exposed to significant change as a result.
A non-trusting general population is enabling a political environment in which society is determining the right to farm. Farm practice and economic viability are already being challenged by social licence-driven regulatory change, as demonstrated by the imminent threat to live exports, changes to native vegetation and threatened species legislation and the focus on discontinuing the use of glyphosate for weed control.
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The right to farm versus the right to choose: society is having the final say

Deanna Lush

With an increasing gap between city and country and increasing scrutiny of farming, society is already determining the right to farm.
The debate over the right to farm will continue to take place on the ‘should we’ questions: what are the values, what are the ethics, should farmers and the food system be doing what they are doing? Since farmers do not have as much contact with consumers as others in the food system, an openness to the genuine questioning of practices will require a huge mind shift.
Farmers may believe they have a right to farm, but equally the market has a right not to buy their products. Buy now

Society giveth, and society taketh away. That’s how it should be.

Matt Cawood

Should society determine how agriculture is conducted? The answer is a robust ‘yes’, because agriculture is nothing if not a part of society. But getting to that yes requires that we look at the nature of liberty, and at how society is already shaping agriculture with agriculture’s assent.
A farm is a form of territory. That, and the generally solitary nature of the farming business, suits temperaments inclined to independence. Not coincidentally, the farmer class everywhere tends to be politically conservative and resentful of government reaching over the farm boundary to interfere in the running of the farmer’s private kingdom. Buy now

To what extent should society determine the right to farm?

Nikki Dumbrell

Farmers, like all other business operators and individuals, are continuously faced with decisions about how to allocate and manage their resources to satisfy their objectives. A farmer’s choice set is constrained by the attributes of their resources, regulations, market requirements, and social expectations. Regulations stipulate conditions on resource access and use. But, complying with regulations is insufficient. Society expects more of farmers than to just comply with regulations. The ongoing acceptance or approval of a farmer’s operations/activities by local stakeholders and the broader community is described as the farmer’s ‘social licence to operate’. Buy now

Delimiting the right to farm through the instrumentality of the law

Ogbe Chukwunonso Daniel

Nigeria has been in the news on the negative side of late, owing to the violent clashes that erupt occasionally between farmers who eke out a living in cultivating arable farmlands on the one hand; and pastoralist herdsmen who breed cattle within the territorial confines of Nigeria on the other hand. The incessant conflicts between Nigerian farmers and herdsmen, emanating from the grazing of farmlands by cattle, is an instance of the numerous factors responsible for the persistent questions on whether farmers should be granted the prerogative of determining how they are to carry out their farming business; or whether farming should be regulated by third party policy-makers who may not necessarily be farmers. Buy now

Right to farm and its determination: the farming community’s responsibility

Marius Cuming

As a farmer, a communicator and someone employed by an agricultural service provider, the statement for this year’s essay challenged me from the moment I considered it. After all, if society didn’t determine the right to farm (defined as “legitimate and lawful agriculture practice without conflict of interference”), who could or indeed should?
Could a primary producer’s right to farm be determined or even governed by farming businesses themselves?
Alternatively, is it the role of government to determine the right to farm, or perhaps the legal system? Maybe it should be determined by key stakeholders, including those who work to end certain farming practices. Buy now

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