What if you were in an elevator with potential presidential candidate Donald Trump and had just one minute to talk to him about an important agriculture issue? What would you say? How would you say it? Would you know where to begin?
OFBF Trustee Chris Weaver found himself answering this question as part of a communications exercise during an American Farm Bureau Advocacy Conference he attended recently in Washington, D.C.
“We learned how to better communicate not only with senators and lawmakers but with our neighbors at home,” he said.
Learning how to tell the story of agriculture effectively to various audiences was a key takeaway from the event, he said. The conference not only included various workshops for Farm Bureau leaders but one-on-one sessions with Ohio lawmakers in the nation’s capital about important issues affecting farmers.
“It gave us the tools we need to tell our story,” he said. “The (elevator) exercise helped us think outside the box. It was very effective.”
Weaver, who owns and operates Bridgewater Dairy in Williams County, and other Farm Bureau members met with Rep. Bob Latta while in Washington. The group mostly talked about GMO labeling, and Weaver asked Latta about policy regarding immigration reform and the need for a more robust work force in agriculture.
“Latta is such a strong supporter of ag,” Weaver said. “I just reminded him of our struggle to establish a good work force and why it is so important. Finding hardworking, good quality labor to work at any farm, especially a livestock farm, is a general problem in all farming.”
Weaver said he left the meeting with Latta with a “strong feeling” that nothing in regard to farming labor or immigration reform was going to be seriously considered until after the presidential election in November.
“I’ll just keep talking about it,” he said, “and hoping someone will hear our message.”
Photo: Ohio Farm Bureau Trustee Chris Weaver (l) and John Davis of Carroll County talk with Rep. Bob Latta (r).