Seed World

Don’t Get Bogged Down When It Comes to Ag Policy

The best way to wade through the effect of policy on agriculture is to look at the bigger picture.

When it comes to politics, there’s a lot of moving parts. Those pieces impact wide swatches of society, including agriculture. There’s a lot to pay attention to, but to make the biggest impact you should take a step back and look at the whole picture.

“Understanding how policy is going to impact your business is important. I think that giving that perspective to help ensure that the policy is beneficial to you is critical. But you don’t actually need to be an expert on all of this,” Michelle Klieger, president of Stratagerm Consulting, says during the Aug. 2 episode of Seed Speaks. “I think there’s value to being aware. I would be careful how much time you invest.”

To wade through policy and discover what impacts you and the agriculture industry the most, Klieger suggests following ag sources, news sources, and policy outlooks. She does add it’s hard to always understand the connection to ag, which is why it can be helpful to read line by line breakdowns of what is being discussed and how it is going to be interpreted.

“Most people expect to see that gut reaction of how it’s going to impact your business, or your life, especially when the intention wasn’t for ag. And so the intention was to do (create a policy) that is generally very positive or acceptable. But they didn’t think about the impact on ag,” Klieger explains.

On the politician side of the equation, there’s a lot for them to consider when making policy decisions, Phyllis MacCallum, program manager for AgriLMI and AgriDiversity for the Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council, says during the episode.

“I’m not sure if it’s that ag isn’t thought of at all in it. But there are a lot of players that have to be considered,” she adds. “For many that we deal with here we do have producers around the table, we have industry representatives around the table. But it is about ensuring that everyone does have a voice.”

The job of politicians isn’t to know everything, Klieger says. Politicians are meant to make decisions for policy and by doing so shape society and impact the lives of people.

“It’s not necessarily their job to understand how a seed business works or understand how long it takes to breed plants or understand the labour implications. And so good politicians are good at listening and take the opportunity to hear from their constituents,” Klieger adds.

Which is why agriculture education and being willing to explain issues to politicians is important. For politicians, they want to have people share this information with them so that they have a better understanding when making policy decisions, MacCallum says.

“Taking those opportunities when you have them, being involved, and meeting with local officials, and or provincial, national officials, is really important to ensuring that they get that grassroots information about how the work that they’re doing is impacting those on the ground,” she explains.