By Shankar Das, PAg, Public Trust Specialist, Regional Services Branch
Recent provincial and national public trust surveys have demonstrated that most Canadians feel that farmers and ranchers are the most trusted voice in agriculture. The surveys also show that most Canadians feel that producers follow agriculture regulations.
For two years, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Public Trust Survey has revealed that more than 70 per cent of Saskatchewan residents believe Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers follow government rules and regulations. A similar national survey by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity also shows that the majority of Canadians feel Canada's food system has the right amount of regulations.
Building public trust in the agriculture sector is a strategic priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, which has developed a comprehensive public trust strategy with three pillars, one focusing entirely on having an effective assurance system. The ministry’s goals are to protect food safety, animal health, and the environment by ensuring sound regulations are in place and monitoring compliance, as well as increasing understanding of recognized assurance systems, and collaborating on federal regulations.
The Ministry of Agriculture administers nearly 65 acts and regulations in the province. Industry organizations are also involved in designing, developing and implementing standards and rules called assurance systems that guide production, processing and marketing of their products. Many of the standards and rules are mandatory, such as Pro-Action in the dairy industry and Canadian Pork Excellence in the swine industry. Voluntary standards like the Verified Beef Production Plus program ensure beef operations maintain the highest standards for food safety, animal care and environmental stewardship. The figure below shows the types and sources of government regulations and industry standards.
Government regulations can be enforced through a number of methods, ranging from education and awareness to penalties and fines. Regulations are also routinely reviewed to ensure they are still relevant and effective.
The survey results mentioned above illustrate the public’s trust in the robust regulatory systems that exist in Canada. The results also suggest there are opportunities for the agriculture sector to improve the public perception of agriculture regulations by doing the right thing and also by highlighting and promoting the existence and effectiveness of regulations in Canada.
The ministry has a dedicated team of specialists across the province to help producers ensure they understand the regulations and are using best management practices. If you have questions about the regulatory process or how you can better align with industry standards, contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 to be connected with one of our ministry specialists.
- 2020 Public Trust Survey
- 2020 Public Trust Annual Research, Canadian Centre For Food Integrity
- Building Public Trust in Agriculture, Government of Saskatchewan