I just finished reading a few blogs referring to National Agriculture Day, and the Thank a Farmer slogan. I really like reading different perspectives on the same topic. Sometimes it makes me really think about what I am doing, and how I can improve myself. These two blogs made me reflect on what I typically do on Ag Day.
So, how did I spend National Ag Day? I went to the Minnesota State Capitol to meet with my elected officials through the Minnesota Farm Bureau’s Day on the Hill event. I am not a morning person, but I was up at 4:45 am to get myself ready for the day. I was in town to pick up donuts for all the people riding the bus by 6:15, and on the bus by 6:30 am. We picked up people on our route, and ended up with a very diverse group of farmers. The one common denominator is our love for what we do.
The weather the day before was kinda rough. A little snow with a lot of wind created “blow ice” and ground blizzard conditions. Some of the roads we needed to take were still listed as hazardous driving conditions when we left, but the plows were out, so we were able to make the trip. Kudos to our bus driver who kept the bus on the road in the wind and on ice!
We started our day with a briefing at the Department of Agriculture. This is where we have the opportunity to hear about the latest issues that affect agriculture, and a refresher on what Farm Bureau’s stance is on those issues. All of the opinions of Farm Bureau are set by the farmers and ranchers who are members. The grassroots part of our policy making is one of the things I love about this organization.
After our briefing, we jumped back on the bus for a short ride up to the Capitol. In past years, we’ve been able to walk the 6 blocks to the Capitol, but this year it was 9 degrees with a stiff north wind. Coldest Day on the Hill I can remember. Every county Farm Bureau sets up their own appointment times, and occasionally we’ll jump in with a neighboring county if we have extra time. Our county had 3 appointments lined up for the afternoon, with time to eat in one of the cafeterias first. If you like people watching, the MN Department of Transportation’s cafeteria is the place to eat. It is a short tunnel walk from the Senate Office Building, so many Senators and Representatives eat there.
Our county was able to meet with two of our Senators, and one of our Representatives. We jumped in with a neighboring area, and met with their Representative as well. This part is so cool. This is our freedom in action. We are able to walk into the offices of our elected officials, and tell our stories. They have the opportunity to hear first hand how proposed legislation will affect their constituents. Whether or not you agree on philosophies or belong to the same party, a respectful conversation is possible. It is within these respectful conversations that we have the opportunity to build relationships, and become the expert they will rely on for their information. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get past your differences, and that is okay. The important thing is to always be respectful, and always be yourself.
I would encourage you to become involved in a farming or ranching, or whatever you do organization. Most of them have organized days to visit your elected officials. Take advantage of those opportunities! It makes a big impact on those at the Capitol – elected and staff – when we take time off the farm or ranch to visit with them.
Happy Agriculture Week!