There are many problems with the current farming and food supply systems. This is partly due to domination by big business, and ties to a strictly traditional way of farming. There are ways in which public policy can help to steer the industry in a more sustainable direction, however.
These policy recommendations are oriented towards the key mechanisms of the food system.
Farming is a complex business, requiring complicated systems in order to stay functional. It requires cooperation with government institutions, often operating on numerous levels which causes issues with jurisdiction. Additionally, political motivations often influence decisions made in the field. To ensure change, policy propositions must be a product of coordination by all institutions involved, allowing every side to complement one another rather than overlap.
Farmers and their labor are the industry’s most important resource. Therefore, a big portion of public policy should handle the training of new and existing farmers. It is also crucial to include young people in the world of farming, as more people from urban areas try to make their way in the industry. This will help with food sustainability, as well as create new job opportunities.
There are many reasons for a farmer to go down the sustainable road. Not all are about the environment–some are simply about being compatible with markets, and providing new services. However, the changes in how we grow our food are difficult to implement, and the government should provide incentives as encouragement. These are often most effective in the form of tax breaks.
In order to try a new farming practice, it must first be field-tested and researched. This is best done via government coordination, as a matter of public policy. Investing in research is therefore another way the government can help sustainable farming thrive in the long term.
It’s also important to note that research in the field isn’t always straightforward. New practices and bright ideas often come about from attempts that no one has foreseen. A generous and flexible budget is required for research to be broad in its scope.
Not all policy related to farming is about producing and making food. Much of it will involve getting the information you need to improve the systems you already have in place. Data should come from farmers and businesses working within the food sector, as well as government institutions working in the field.
This is something that troubles many who have a problem with big data collection, but it can at times be quite useful to know how policies affect people in real time.
Farmers are but one cog in the food delivery machine, and it is crucial to keep this in mind. Reforms must be made in the fields of sales and marketing, as well. For instance, more emphasis should be placed on farmer’s markets, as they play a big role in local food sustainability systems.
Farmers markets also allow the general public to gain control and information over how their food is made, via personal connections with local farmers.
There are many areas in which policy change is needed, to make room for eco-friendly and sustainable approaches to agriculture. This can only be achieved through cooperation from governmental, private and for-profit institutions.