Agricultural policy is often labelled as bad if it reduces producers’ ability to carry out their chosen path of production and marketing.
If bad agricultural policy can be easily identified, should it follow that good agricultural policy is the absence of bad policy?
The answer might not be that clear.
Good agricultural policy may be harder to recognize because of what makes that policy good, namely an enhanced ability to pursue opportunities for sustainability, growth, profit and succession.
Good policy may not be as quickly identified because those most likely to identify the restrictions of bad policy are otherwise consumed by the opportunities that good policy provides.
So, while bad policy may be classified as such by its restrictions and inhibition of production and marketing, good policy is not identified as such until those directly affected by the policy are engaged in the activities buoyed by the policy.
Policy may be better identified as good by the activities it encourages rather than the activities it restricts.
For example, municipal, provincial and federal policies have encouraged shows such as Canadian Western Agribition. Policy crafted to encourage this event within the agricultural community has greatly assisted in the development and longevity of North America’s best beef show and a globally recognized showplace of Canadian agriculture’s excellence.
Clearly the policy that enables such an event and the support for key infrastructure can be identified as good policy by those immersed in its promotion, operation and agricultural product spin-off.
Every year, millions of dollars of agricultural business can be linked back to Agribition and related events.
However, those who are not directly involved may not always hold public funding directed through good agricultural policy in such high regard. Broad public support is key for good policy to survive.
The recognition that events such as Agribition are part of our community fabric is what encourages longevity.
In Agribition’s case, it’s because of $27 million in economic activity, leadership in agricultural technology, global brand recognition, North America’s top cattle genetics, support of hundreds of volunteers and re-investment in the community such as donations to STARS Air Ambulance.
Many similar examples exist, and these agricultural based events have been encouraged through good agricultural policy.
It is important to recognize that good agricultural policy contributes to making our communities great.
Ross Macdonald, M.Sc., P.Ag., ranches in southern Saskatchewan.