One of the reasons our country has become a global superpower and a shining beacon for those seeking a better life is because our government is from, by and for the people. Our democratic government empowers each of us to play a role in shaping the laws of our land and, if called upon, to serve as an elected representative or leader.
While we rely on elected officials to adopt policies that will protect and promote our well-being and fulfill the will of the people, our job is to help inform their votes and actions.
When I meet with federal government officials and elected officials, I share our Farm Bureau priorities and the stories I hear from grassroots members across the country. These leaders and lawmakers come from all corners of the country, and while they are eager to hear from me, most are not directly accountable to me.
They are accountable to the citizens of their states and districts. This is why telling your story to your elected officials is so important. It’s their job to speak for you, but they can’t if they don’t hear from you.
While you can contact your representatives by phone, mail, email, and social media anytime, meeting them in person is one of the best ways to share your concerns.
And in just a few weeks, Congress will begin its annual August hiatus – a month-long hiatus that members typically spend traveling to their home states and districts to meet with the people they represent. This will be the perfect opportunity to make sure these reps know how the issues they tackle in the fall will affect you and your farm.
I have seen how effective our grassroots members are and how our grassroots engagement and advocacy can impact policies. When proposals to eliminate the grossed-up base and increase capital gains taxes began to gain broad support in Washington, our citizens began to share how these taxes would devastate their family farms.
We helped share the story of North Carolina Farm Bureau member Ann Margaret-Hughes who, at age 14, had to empty her savings account to help her family keep their farm. His college savings, 4-H earnings, and birthday money were all wiped out.
If these proposals were enacted into law, this story would repeat itself across the county and lead to even more consolidation in agriculture.
And stories like this make a difference. More members of Congress are opposed to these proposals than just a few months ago.
As our government focuses on tackling climate change, telling the story of agricultural sustainability has helped us shape climate policy. We are now seeing policies that recognize the leadership and work that farmers have done for generations to leave their farms in better condition than they found them to be.
Mike Wood, member of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, explained how he has been engaged in water conservation efforts for decades, as our livelihoods depend on sustainable farming practices. We need clean water and healthy soil for our families and to raise our crops and livestock.
Just a few weeks ago, the Senate passed rare bipartisan climate legislation that would help interested farmers navigate emerging carbon credit markets. Voluntary market-based policy. Just like we advocated.
In the current political climate, bipartisan success is difficult to achieve, especially on climate policy. But this legislation received 92 yes votes because of the stories our grassroots shared with consumers and their representatives.
And as farmers and ranchers have shared their challenges with marketing livestock as meat packers see their incomes rise as the price of livestock plummets, Congress and the administration have started to take action.
The lack of high-speed internet in many rural communities became more apparent than ever during the pandemic when families explained that their students could not join virtual classes or that employees could not telecommute due to an internet. non-existent or unreliable.
The results and advancements we are seeing in agriculture are possible because people have shared their stories as we speak with a united voice. We need more voices to ensure that we can effectively tackle the issues facing agriculture and our rural communities.
So take a few minutes and visit usa.gov/elections-officiel to find contact information for your Senators and Representatives and call to see if there are opportunities to meet and share your experiences. Consider inviting them to the farm to see firsthand the good work that is being done. Every story makes a difference in ensuring a vibrant future for our family farms and ranches.