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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this opinion piece, Kerry Tucker, the chief strategic counsel, and Teresa Siles, the managing director and senior vice president, both at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Inc., a strategic planning and public relations firm, note that President Trump has been clear that he plans to rollback a wide range of regulations. As regulatory reins are loosened, write Tucker and Siles, there are important questions to consider. “Among them,” they write, “in what way might state-level regulations, as varied as they might be, step in where federal oversight is withdrawn? Will pressure from activist or special interest groups be loud enough to spark change in the name of the environment or animal welfare? And -- importantly -- will consumers be willing to pay the price for products grown to certain standards of sustainability, animal welfare or other criteria they determine to be important to them?” Speaking at the 2017 Food Foresight conference, one panelist, Jeff Dlott, the president of SureHarvest, a division of Where Food Comes From (WFCF), said he thinks consumers will be willing to pay more for products with measurable sustainability attributes. Marketplace demands, he believes, could supersede the rollback of regulations. “Some areas of deregulation will likely not align with what consumers are increasingly demanding, particularly in the areas of resource management and social responsibility,” says Dlott. But Daniel Sumner, who runs the Agricultural Issues Center at University of California, Davis, says, “Regulations and or marketplace-driven demands may do a lot of good but they’re never free. The costs have to be absorbed somewhere, and in agriculture where margins are tight, these costs are split between suppliers, workers and the consumer.” Sumner said the challenge moving forward will be to get the right information to the right consumers so those willing to pay can do so, while those who are not can opt out. Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said he believes we are at a tipping point where consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable food production. “If you look at the millennials, they are the first generation now who are consciously willing to spend more for better quality, for sustainability, for traceability. I think there is a change,” he said.

Posted August 11th, 2017