The Impact of a Unified Voice

Speaking with a Unified Voice - Farmers to Washington

 

Agriculture is under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency, individual states, and federal judges. It is time to get involved, and make your voice heard. What is the most effective way to get your message across? By joining a farm organization.

This past March, I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with the Minnesota Farm Bureau. This was my 4th trip to DC with Farm Bureau, but my first trip as a member of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Board of Directors. I came away with three things I think everyone involved in agriculture should know.

Every farmer should belong to a farm organization

I know, I know. We’re all really busy, and it’s tough to take on one more thing. But what if that one more thing makes your job easier in the long run? For example, fourteen Minnesota Farm Bureau members traveled to Washington DC together in March. That is a small fraction of our membership. We were speaking on behalf of all Minnesota Farm Bureau members that week. When we met with our Congressmen and Senators, they knew we are speaking with a unified voice for all of our members.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to the Minnesota State Capitol for our Day on the Hill visits. It’s another trip that I love, and it’s an easy one day event for us. The messages we bring to our elected officials, whether state or national, are those that came from our members in the policy development and voting delegate sessions that happen every year. Your voice in your county matters.

Politics may not be your thing, but it affects everything

When I first got involved in Farm Bureau, politics weren’t my thing. I had kids to worry about, I was taking on a few more farm responsibilities, and just didn’t think my opinions mattered anyway. The more I got involved with Farm Bureau, the more I realized how much of our livelihood depended on our elected officials. I started paying attention, embraced the opportunities to attend legislative 101 type sessions at our Leadership Conferences, and learned how the political process works. Then, Jonathan and I won a trip to Washington DC with the Young Farmers & Ranchers group, where we learned how powerful the Farm Bureau voice can be. I went in to that trip pretty wide-eyed, and came home fired up…in a good way. I gained a new respect for those who work hard at getting our message in front of the House and Senate every day. I know I couldn’t do it!

Every farmer should go to Washington DC at least twice

Why go twice? Isn’t once enough…a been there done that kind of thing? As I mentioned above, my first trip to Washington DC was pretty much a wide eyed experience where I was taking in so much information, and seeing for the first time how politics affects agriculture at the national level, that I really didn’t feel like I made much of an impact. When we went on our second trip, I was much more comfortable about speaking up in our meetings, and felt that I was making a difference. In March, one of our Congressmen expressed how he appreciated how Farm Bureau speaks with a unified voice, since they represent all sectors of agriculture. He mentioned how we are a lot like Congress in that we have to learn how to take all of the different voices and come together in agreement on our policies. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. The group on this spring’s trip was very diverse, which really brought home our Congressman’s point. We had beef, dairy, pig, conventional, and organic farmers in our group speaking as one.

Whether it is the American Farm Bureau addressing the issues surrounding the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, or the Minnesota Farm Bureau addressing Governor Dayton’s buffer strip campaign, our elected officials take note of our message, whether or not they vote the way we would like, at least they know exactly where we stand. That is the impact of a unified voice.

30 Things I Love: The Ability to Vote

Vote

It’s election day in the United States. It’s a day many look forward to, not only because this means the end of political ads on television and radio, but it is a chance for them to be a participant in deciding the future of our country.

I love that I have the ability to vote. I am thankful that we don’t need an armed escort or the military called in to guard those who dare to vote. I am thankful that, as a woman, I can walk into a polling place and cast my vote without being arrested. I am thankful for the men and women in uniform who put their necks on the line every day to preserve my freedom to vote.

I hear it said many times that “my vote doesn’t count”. In Minnesota, we’ve had a few races in the last 10 years that came down to just a few votes. Your vote DOES count! If you are on the fence about whether or not to vote, think Nike…Just Do It!

Your Vote Today is Not the End of the Story

As my friend, Michael, who blogs at Minnesota Farmer, said, “The most important thing you can do is visiting elected officials after they take office. ¬†There you can influence the future.”

We often complain that our elected officials are only working within party lines, but are we any better? How can we expect our representatives to work with us, if we refuse to work with them just because we may not have voted for them? It’s time to put our words into action! Building trust and a mutual respect is valuable when you need to work with your senators or representatives on agricultural issues. Yes, need. Take the example of writing to our congressmen about the proposed EPA rule. If I have blasted my congressman all over social media, and have been insulting to him to his face, do you think he would take my request seriously when I ask him to vote against the EPA’s rule? If I were him, I wouldn’t!

Jonathan and I are members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. We have had many opportunities to travel to the State Capitol, and to Washington DC to discuss agricultural issues with our senators and representatives. Farm Bureau has a great reputation of working with all parties to achieve their goal. I love Farm Bureau’s model! I really believe we can disagree on issues, and be respectful at the same time.

Are you ready to put into action your beliefs? Get out and vote today, then follow your elected officials on social media, visit them in their offices, be available to answer questions they may have, and become a trusted voice of agriculture.

 

Day  1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Other blogs in the 30 Day Blog Challenge