Confronting no


For policy advocates, as Sean Moore articulates, a key skill is recognizing and confronting the many ways dominant actors and decision makers say "no".  It is critical to anticipate and have responses to these objections, many of which are part of the dominant narrative but not actually accurate. Each advocacy effort will be unique, with unique responses, but objections commonly employed in the food system are:

We're already over-regulated

Companies often think regulations are impeding innovation. It is not usually the case that there are too many regulations, but rather that governments aren't always nimble at updating them with changing circumstances. Proposing changes that can contribute to nimbleness is part of thinking through the transition.  Effective regulation shapes market activity in the direction of social objectives, which for private businesses often feels like over-regulation because their purposes are often at odds with public ones.  This is a critical indication of market failure.

We can leave that to the market

Regulators are typically reacting to market developments rather than proactively attempting to shape how markets function. Market failure, however, is widespread which is of course why state intervention is often required. Having a solid understanding of how market failure plays out, with evidence, in an issue area is important for countering this, as many decision makers are not well informed on market dysfunction.

The changes cost too much

Firms are usually looking to minimize costs and that often means trying to get someone else to pay them.

The proposals are too vague

This is often accurate since advocates often fail to think properly through the details.  Other times, however, it is an indication that regulators or firms don't really understand what is being proposed.

We're too busy
Senior management will never agree
The changes are too complex
That's not our department
We just changed the rules on that and no one wants to discuss it right now
We'll never get the stakeholders to agree
I can't talk about that