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Building relationships one elected official, one farmer at a time
by Doug Foxx
Recently with the help of our field staff, I helped organize three separate events around the state, sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Agriculture for Good Government Political Action Committee (AGGPAC). These events were designed to bring together Farm Bureau members and key leaders of the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee, including:
- Sen. Lou Gentile, ranking minority leader
- Sen. Troy Balderson, vice chairman
- Sen. Cliff Hite, chairman.
Each senator has earned the coveted Ohio Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Award based on his past voting records’ strong support of agricultural issues.
Each event had its own unique flavor as the senators and local Farm Bureau leaders enjoyed a meal together and discussed issues important to their respective regions of the state, including oil and gas production, taxation, environmental policy, transportation and infrastructure, school funding, the state budget and more.
However, one thing the events all shared in common was the opportunity and importance of building connections between constituents and policymakers. Farm Bureau members had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the senators and tell them a little bit about their farm. They discussed several ways they can and should engage in the political process to build stronger relationships with their elected officials.
As director of political education for Farm Bureau, it’s my role to help members keep the lines of communication open and work toward creating stronger relationships with government officials. Here are some effective ways to do that:
- Sign up for email updates from your elected official.
- Follow your elected officials on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube then share and comment on their posts.
- Support your elected officials’ efforts to run for re-election by volunteering at campaign events and making a campaign donation; every dollar helps.
- Host your elected officials for a farm tour and meet and greet with your friends, family and neighbors.
- Walk around the fairgrounds with your elected official and him or her through the livestock barns where you can introduce them to friends and others in your community.
- Get to know your elected officials’ staff and email or call his or her office to advocate for the issues you care about and to say thank you when your elected officials support legislation important to agriculture.
- Attend in-district events and visit your elected officials’ district or capitol office from time to time.
Judging by the smiles, laughter and all-around good fellowship I witnessed at each event, one thing is clear – our members and the senators all enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other better and to talk about ways to make our state a better place for all Ohioans.
AGGPAC will continue to hold events like these around the state for key Friends of Agriculture in the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and Ohio’s delegation to Congress in the future.
Visit Ohio Farm Bureau’s grassroots and political website www.farmvotesmatter.org to learn more about AGGPAC and opportunities to engage with our elected officials.
Doug Foxx is director of political education for Ohio Farm Bureau