I’m the first to admit I have not always been one to follow politics, but as I have “aged” I have realized it cannot be ignored. If we don’t share our opinions and beliefs with those making the laws, others will, and in the case of agriculture that is not always good.
If you don’t know, the Senate is currently discussing (or sadly not discussing) the issue of GMO food labeling. This is one of those topics that could fill a whole newsletter. There are many points that must be considered, but the bottom line is GMOs are safe, and a myriad of labels will only cause confusion and needed panic. (If you want more information, here is a great article on the topic.) A vote a few weeks ago was held and sadly no action was taken on a bill that would call for a voluntary label for GMOs.
My question to you is: Did you contact your senators and tell them how important this is to you? To every one of us who contacts our elected officials, or even better visits them, there are 10 more who are against our agricultural practices also talking to them. Research shows for messages to resonate with people, they must hear them multiple times, and for our officials to vote with us, they must hear us multiple times! And after talking with many of their staff over the last year, they are looking for personal stories and people they can call on as resources on these issues. So why not you?
If you are like I was, you didn’t know where to start. Well after some great training with American Farm Bureau and many lobbyists in different areas, here is my check list on how to approach such a visit:
- Set up a meeting! Don’t be afraid; they want to hear from you.
- Before you go, do your research. Get to know the bios of your official and their staff members you may meet.
- Research the issues you want to discuss. Know both sides and why it is important to you. Research what AFBF and OFBF are saying on the issue.
- Identify stories you have about your farm or family that relate to the issue that the official could use as he or she argue it on the floor.
- Identify specific examples of how this issue affects the constituents in their district directly.
- Plan out your 2-3 main points and your supporting points. And don’t be afraid to practice!
- Day of the visit be early and be ready to give a business card to the staff.
- Have an ask for them. You can even ask them to discuss something on the House/Senate floor for you. Again, they love stories they can share!
- In your discussion be sure to:
- Give real stories
- Connect to the district
- Discuss the specific legislative action you are looking for
- Stay on message
- Ask what their issues are with the topic.
- Show them who of their peers supports or cosponsors the issue.
- After your visit be sure to send a thank you note!
Good luck and have fun with it!
Pictured above is Buck’s PALS Class visiting the U.S. Senate.
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