They say nature hates a vacuum. A tree falling in a rainforest starts a mad race to occupy the now vacant space.
The same is true of our governments.
Politicians and public servants both stay at the top of the greasy poles by quickly filling new holes discovered in existing policy and legislation.
Too often with an accelerated media cycle, it matters more that the hole is filled quickly, than what exactly it's being filled with.
So it's essential for horticulture, and any other industry, that as soon as an issue is discovered and governments put their hand into their policy toolboxes, that we are there first to offer the option of self-regulation.
Self-regulation is where an industry voluntarily adopts and monitors its own compliance with a set of minimum standards. Self-regulation, done right, is known to be more efficient and effective than the heavy hand of the bureaucracy.
We have seen the Queensland government wade in recently with strict new regulations to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Compliance costs will rise and privacy will be lost.
This has been an opportunity for self-regulation that agriculture collectively has failed to fully grasp.
The biggest issue today in horticulture that's created a hole in policy is compliance with workplace law along the fresh produce supply chain.
Again, as politicians and public servants start casting around for a solution, it's essential as an industry we take control of our own destiny and offer up the option of sensible self-regulation.
The alternatives are bleak. Either government gets involved, or worse still, as has been reported lately in the national press, the supermarkets take on the role of regulator with the help of the unions.
The threat of this last alternative is real. It would be a nightmare for farmers, creating multiple standards, a mountain of paperwork, and overzealous audits.
So on behalf of industry Growcom has developed Fair Farms, a self-regulation solution we're launching at the end of June that provides assurance our fresh produce supply chain remains fair for all.