Don’t Let Your Social License Lapse

By Mike Levin, Illinois Soybean Growers director of public policy and regulatory affairs

Don’t Let Your Social License LapseOne of the most exciting days for any 16-year-old is the one when he or she obtains a driver’s license. That small piece of laminated plastic not only provides the freedom of going places with friends, it is a gateway to bank transactions, boarding airplanes and showing proof of age.

But if we allow our driver’s license to expire, it eliminates these privileges. Not to mention it can get us in legal trouble and cost time and money to replace.

While Illinois soybean producers don’t need a laminated card to farm, you do need to maintain your social license to operate. That means advocating to protect your business.  

Social license to operate has become a buzzword in recent years. It is also called social acceptability or social responsibility, and refers to how others view the credibility of what you do and acceptance of you as providers of a safe, sustainable food supply. If producers do not have these things, they are less likely to get support from regulatory agencies and lawmakers. Their “permission” is required to protect freedom to farm. And there are steps to take to protect it:

  • Adopt a long-term social license mindset. Social license to operate is developed and maintained over time through your efforts to build trust with soybean customers, those in the supply chain and your local community. Act with a mindset for the long-term.
  • Have a contingency to address problems. If you have an issue develop on your farm that affects your environmental status, farm quality or input use, be prepared to resolve it quickly. When others see you take the right corrective actions and share that information openly, you can better protect your social license to operate and build trust with your local community.
  • Advocate with Voice for Soy. Voice for Soy lets producers easily connect with legislators to take action and advocate for Illinois agriculture. Your input helps assure you can operate under the best legislative and regulatory environments with an easy, one-stop shop to track key issues.
  • Build advocacy into your business strategy. You plan for the growing season. Do the same with sharing your story. Voice for Soy Advocacy Champions share action alerts and key issues with other Voice for Soy users, and share their personal stories with lawmakers each time there’s an action alert, making a greater impact on the outcomes of critical decisions.
  • Join Illinois Soybean Growers. Engage with us through one of our membership options, and advocate for issues that protect your social license. Visit VoiceforSoy.org for more details.