Why farms should care about their ‘social license to farm’

Rural Exchange 06/10/2018

A public relations specialist is warning farmers of the increasing relevance for businesses to operate in a way that is approved by their communities.

The description ‘social license to farm’ was researched by rural communications & PR specialist Penny Clark-Hall, who wanted to gain an understanding of how a business gains or loses social acceptance of its operations.

“It all boils down to trust,” said Mrs Clark-Hall.

Mrs Clark-Hall told Rural Exchange that businesses that lack trust between stakeholders or their customers are “running down a slippery slope” to losing their social licence to operate.

“That can be anything from consumers boycotting the product, from physical blockades to getting to your business, activist groups protesting and responding to that form the political level to regulations on your business.”

It all boils down to trust.

While a ‘social license’ is intangible, Mrs Clark-Hall emphasised that strong social opposition can lead to political or legal intervention or regulation.

Her research comes as a reminder for New Zealand’s primary sector to maintain accountability, transparency, and be honest when mistakes or hiccups inevitably come along the way. 

Watch the full interview with Penny Clark-Hall above.

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