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A Framework for Earning and Maintaining Public Trust

By: Miranda Burski and Krystal Aulie, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

At Saskatchewan Agriculture, we’re focused on keeping the province’s agriculture and food industry strong and successful by implementing regulations based on science rather than emotion, while also providing programs and services that contribute to a sustainable industry.

Intertwined with the issue of sustainability, and at times complicating it, is the need to build public trust in order to maintain agriculture’s social licence. Public trust and sustainable growth go hand-in-hand; realistically, one cannot be achieved without the other. Building public trust requires the industry to listen to what consumers have to say and government, agribusinesses, industry organizations and producers must work together to take action. To better align these efforts, our Ministry recently created a Social Licence Framework focusing on the themes of animal health and welfare, environment, human health and society.

The framework’s use is two-fold. It can help our industry better understand and address consumers’ concerns. At the same time, it acts as an action plan identifying consumer concerns that pose the greatest risk to the industry’s future sustainability, and outlines what needs to be done to address those concerns.

Two questions were asked during the development of the framework:

  1. Are the groups throughout the agriculture value chain and government doing the right thing?
  2. If so, do consumers know what agriculture is doing and why the industry is doing it that way?

In many cases, it was determined that industry and government simply need to keep doing what they are already doing – using pesticides responsibly, for example, or investing in appropriate research. In some cases, however, there were “pinch points” – areas where both industry and government needed to do better. It’s those gaps that the framework has pin-pointed and to which government will be paying particular attention.

The Social Licence Framework will be government’s roadmap, but industry and producers also have a role to play in maintaining the public’s support for a growing and sustainable agricultural industry. An overview of the Social Licence Framework is available. We hope that it helps your organization or business narrow down your own work in the area of public trust.

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