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To get change on farms, we must first understand what prevents change. First seek to understand, then to be understood.

In recent years, too many times farmers hear “if you adopt x (regenerative), we’ll buy from you”.

This is the default position for most procurement. And we’re all guilty of it.

But what this doesn’t recognise is the concept of lock-ins. And we’re not talking the good old days of turning the pub lights down and hiding behind the bar.

A system lock-in is a pattern that prevents a system from changing. In farming this is often low-profitability from cash-intensive operations.

Farmers make very marginal returns on cash spent over the lifetime of growing a crop or animal (often multiple years). Changing the system leads to an unknown outcome that puts that invested cash at risk. When a profitable return often isn’t guaranteed.

Furthermore that cash is already at risk from things outside the farmer’s control. For example, after 11 months of spending money growing a crop, there can be a severe flood or drought which spoils the harvest. All the money over the last 11 months is lost.

If we want farmers to change their systems, to become regenerative, then we must first connect with their lock-ins.


This leads to a changed paradigm from “if you become regenerative, we’ll buy from you”, to “what support do you need to become regenerative”.

It is in everyone’s interest as citizens, parents, as well as business people, for land to be managed regeneratively. But we need to enable rather than demand it.

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