In recent times, this mutual love affair between the farming community and the general population has suffered somewhat through a shift in public perception of some sectors of the industry – with the 2019 S&P Global ESG Sector Risk Atlas ranking it 28 out of 33 for environmental and social risk scores.
Despite this, the industry in Australia has ambitious growth aspirations and is working consistently to increase social and environmental standards, engaging with the community and stakeholders as it does so.
Launching Changing Community Expectations – Implications and strategies for the Australian Agribusiness Industry at BDO last Tuesday, Agribusiness Australia Chairman Mark Allison expressed pride in the innovations of the industry over the past 50 years, but acknowledged there was more work to be done.
Evolving community expectations and values, along with shifts in the industry itself, have seen something of a disconnect with agribusiness emerge that Allison says will require ongoing deliberate efforts to rectify – including a consistent approach to technology and innovation paired with clear and effective communication.
He also notes that many public concerns are commodity-specific. That is, they are not industry-wide but more nuanced and tied to the welfare of specific animals or the environmental impact of particular crops, for example.
“One part of the story is providing good information and factual information. The other part of the story, and the part that I think is the most important, is that we have an authentic desire to be better and better… to the point of being ahead of community expectations while still being commercially viable and having a sustainable business model,” Allison said.
The Elders CEO said there is greater alignment between industry and community expectations than people think, with the report showing shared priorities, particularly in the area of environmental impact, including climate change and regenerative agriculture.
“People basically have the same view in terms of expectations: Wanting to leave the planet in better shape than they found it and wanting to ensure there’s no long-term damage from activities they undertake.
“Building on these shared values and ambitions through multiple means will be key to achieving outcomes that meet or even exceed community expectations while allowing the industry to be highly productive, profitable and sustainable.
“We do this by a consistent approach to technology and innovation and transparency.
“This is not a battle of ‘them against us’ – we all basically have the same expectations.”
Changing Community Expectations – Implications and strategies for the Australian Agribusiness Industry’ is now available on the Agribusiness Australia website: Agribusiness Australia reports – Agribusiness Australia. A recording of the event at BDO is available to view here.
BDO’s Agribusiness team has an extensive and diverse range of food and agribusiness clients and treats each business as if it is their own – get in touch to find out more.
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