Finding Your Voice

Why is leadership and communication relevant to agriculture? We just grow food, do our job and get on with it, right? I mean why do we have to tell our story, and what does that even mean?

By Kate Bishop

My main motivation to join The Livestock Collective in 2019 and ultimately design the Livestock Leaders workshops, my passion project, was to give people from agriculture a voice. Live Export was literally shut down overnight without so much as a consultation and I believe it could happen again in the right circumstances. This is not the last time that the ag community will be impacted by someone else’s opinion.

How can we change this?

We can tell our side of the story and put faces and names towards the story that is the Australian Livestock Industry, then we create that connection to the human element that every person can identify with.

The agricultural industry as a whole

Lately, it can sometimes feel as though the whole world is against us, questioning, disagreeing, and telling us how to do it better. With little to no information about how things actually work in real life. However, initial survey data from community sentiment projects confirm that these people are a minority as for the most part, people are busy making ends meet and raising families.

Are Australian farmers trusted?

Trust in Australian farmers is at an all-time high with COVID-19 demonstrating the importance of agriculture basically overnight. In the 12 months before this, I had spent a week at the Perth Royal Show trying to formulate a message about food security in a way that the Australian public could understand – and failed miserably with our predominantly white, privileged and middle-class population who have never been hungry.

The nationwide lockdown

The nationwide forced shutdown for a week explained what food security was in a way that I never could, and in no uncertain terms. We now have an opportunity to build upon this lesson to explain not only what food security means to Australians, but what it means to the countries that we export food to.

Attaining our social license

Ensuring we work towards attaining our ‘social license’ is now a part of regular business activities if we want to build a sustainable business into the future. I am aware that there are many – especially from our industry – who do not believe this is right and do not like this term. If you can come up with a better way to describe this social movement, please let me know.

Share your story

Telling your story is one such way you can ensure your business remains sustainable. Share what you do in your agricultural business every day – and why! The why is most important, and often the part we don’t think needs explaining, but it does. Imagine that your audience is an inquisitive two-year-old who knows nothing and go from there.

We have a moment of reprieve to collect our voices, because the expiry date of our social license is reviewed regularly.

You have a voice, use it!