objectives of agricultural policy

What Are the Objectives of Agricultural Policy and Why Do They Matter?

Jane Marsh - February 24, 2020

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Each year sees a new round of farm-based policies. Some laws are more effective than others, and not all meet expectations — however, the core objectives of agricultural policy matter. People are ultimately seeking better ways to run their farms and do business, and creating new rules can help.

Policies exist for everything from water management to native seed harvesting. Regulation is necessary for ensuring worker and animal wellness, proper cropping methods and much more. In an ideal world, a practical set of agricultural guidelines would keep operations running smoothly while putting all living beings as the top priorities. Until we reach that point, people will continue voicing their opinions about much-needed changes.

Understanding Agricultural Policy

Every industry needs rules to regulate itself and avoid corruption, and agriculture is the same. Agricultural policies around the world create laws and regulations to streamline operations and offer assistance to farmers. Both industrial and small farms see the effects, though each sector responds differently depending on the content. Not all laws benefit small farmers. More often than not, legislators rule favorably for large corporations and wealthy farms that can already afford to sustain themselves. The rich get richer, as they say.

Anyone who doesn’t receive the benefits must make ends meet and continue advocating for better support. Increasing numbers of farmers have adopted solar energy in response to bankruptcies and falling crop prices. Solar PV is reasonably affordable to install, and individuals can sell electricity to utility companies for supplemental income. The added efficiency is also a bonus — farmers slash their operating costs with reduced energy consumption.

People define the objectives of agricultural policy differently depending on what role they play and what type of change they seek. However, there are common goals most people can agree on regardless of political affiliation:

  • Adequate monetary support for farmers and ranchers
  • Animal health and comfort
  • Environmental regulations to preserve natural resources
  • Decreased food insecurity and real, healthy foods

Regenerative agriculture could be a solution to all the above points, but industrial farming is still the dominant system. Even though this method hasn’t yet met widespread application, it’s shown its ability to increase profits and create closed-loop systems with less waste. It can be an invaluable asset to boosting the farming industry if businesses are willing to forgo mass-producing techniques.

Current Policies Affecting Agricultural Operations

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement deals with North American trade and enforces new regulations concerning labor and environmental issues. The agreement will modernize food commerce across the three countries, as well as provide support for small-to-medium-sized ranchers and farmers. It also emphasizes good regulatory practices to prevent corruption within the sector, though it remains to be seen how well these standards will work.

The USMCA mentions a relatively new addition — innovations in biotechnology. Opening the floodgates for inventions means we could soon be seeing a transformed agricultural landscape. Robots will make harvest and plant crops faster than ever, while self-sustaining greenhouses remove the guesswork from growing vegetables. Of course, waves of technology always bring apprehension among workers, with people fearing lower employment rates. Many current technologies function as a complement to existing jobs, though. Rather than losing positions to robots, people may find that their work is easier with advanced tools and equipment. Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy has raised concerns amid European citizens for its failure to support farmers and mitigate climate change. CAP works by supplying farmers with direct payments depending on how much land they own. The program offers monetary incentives for sustainable farming and delivering hard-to-come-by goods. It’s easy to see how a plan like this can become unbalanced, but residents are fighting for better guidelines.

Why These Objectives Matter

Every policy has specific objectives to achieve. These goals matter because they dictate the lives of the farmers and ranchers who shape the agricultural industry. Those who receive the most consequences often have the least say in what goes into the law. That’s why so many people advocate for talking to local lawmakers and letting them know what they think, need and want.

Regulations provide a foundation for citizens to build on, but it’s impossible to achieve equal footing if the framework is unstable. Even though legislators and residents agree on some points, it doesn’t mean all those aims will become laws. Continued advocacy is one thing people can rely on to have their voices heard. Without it, governments will continue doing what they think is best instead of what citizens need.

Shifting Regulations to Meet Farming Needs

The objectives of agricultural policy are to uphold fair processes for everyone in the industry, even if it doesn’t always turn out that way. Still, farmers and ranchers can avoid defeat by questioning unfair rules and proposing alternatives. The best way to see widescale change is by fostering a desire for it.

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.