With all of the recent furore around the release of the Aussie Farms map, it is ever more evident that transparency is vital in establishing and managing trust.
While you can argue the morals of the Aussie Farms organisation, the concept and the process, there is no doubting that transparency is vital in modern society.
Not only is it vital, but it is liberating. It is also challenging, daunting and a bit dangerous for some.
So,what is there to be scared of?
Often within our agricultural bubble, where farmers reassuringly talk to other farmers, our view of the world is skewed. Skewed by the “farming lens” that we see life through.
And therein lies the danger.
What we as an industry have come to believe to be normal and acceptable, must be regularly reviewed and assessed in light of what the everyday consumer expects.
Not the extremists, but just the everyday consumer. What would they think of the day to day practices you undertake on your farm?
They certainly expect that there is nothing to hide, so why not show them what we do with full transparency?
Any lack of transparency can be the result of considered effort, unintentional, or simply just a perception.
In any case, our Australian livestock industries have a great opportunity to get on the front foot, and be the news makers, not the news.
But real transparency is not just the convenient truth, or feel good stories. It is everything. In the case of beef and lamb, from gestation to degustation.
If it isn’t good enough for our consumers to see, then perhaps it isn’t good enough for our producers to do.
It is farming like you have a camera crew following you everywhere. Capturing every task in real time, and streaming it live on a big screen in the centre of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.
Perhaps we should be adding Beijing, London, and New York.
Would it change the way you do things on your farm if you had that camera following you around? If it would, then you must change those things now. Before they become a story.
Change them now because you want to be better. Because you want to be the best.
I don’t want to be part of an industry that has to say “sorry”. Sorry that we weren’t quick enough to react to the changing expectations of consumers. Sorry that we just didn’t think it would happen that quickly. Sorry that we have now lost some consumer trust. Sorry we just didn’t see it coming. Because that is rubbish. The writing is on the wall.
If we are the best in world at running sustainable, morally and ethically robust livestock operations, then open up the gates and show the world.
But first you must ensure that your backyard is clean enough for visitors.
In my opinion, transparency is no longer simply an option, but an absolute imperative.
So, no matter where you fit into the supply chain, look at your business through the consumer’s lens, and make damn sure that you are ready to show the world that we really are the best.
And as for that camera crew…. maybe we should have them, along with the billboards in the major cities. Maybe rather than that just being a way of thinking, it should be a way life in Australian farming.
- Nathan Scott, Achieve Ag Solutions