Growing Relationships with Urban Lawmakers

News / FBNews July 15, 2022

Credit: New York Farm Bureau, Used With Permission 

By Sunny Andersen

Geography and large membership numbers put urban county Farm Bureaus in a unique position to advocate for agriculture with elected officials.

Raghela Scavuzzo, associate director of food systems development with Illinois Farm Bureau; Lauren Williams, senior associate director for national affairs with New York Farm Bureau; and Martha Moore, senior vice president of government relations at Virginia Farm Bureau, recently shared how their organizations are effectively connecting with city-based policymakers.

Scavuzzo said ILFB is focused on “growing our community together.”

“What we’re building in our system is more than just ‘take them to a farm,’ we wanted to build relationships and work on deeper conversations,” she explained.

Williams notes that New York has over 8 million city and suburban residents who have little exposure to agriculture. To set the stage for constructive conversations between farmers and urban legislators, NYFB hosted a reception in Queens.  

“From our perspective, we really wanted to provide an experience for urban legislative members to realize there are farms in New York that are able to operate at the commercial level,” Williams said.

Shifting focus and utilizing contributions and endorsements is helping VAFB to build long-term relationships with legislators. Offering nonstructured farm visits while legislators are travelling to party caucus events and providing opportunities to participate in roundtables with members is “increasing farmer transparency and building trust,” Moore said.

Cultivating Agriculture in an Urban Setting Webinar Series

Scavuzzo, Williams and Moore participated in an American Farm Bureau Federation-hosted webinar on growing relationships with urban lawmakers. The webinar is the second in a series of bi-monthly webinars focusing on avenues of engagement with farmers and others in urban settings. Webinar recordings and supported materials, such as how-to toolkits and articles on related county Farm Bureau programs, are available to Farm Bureau members and staff on Farm Bureau University. If you are not already registered on FBU, you can register at university.fb.org using the code statefb, replacing “state” with your state’s two-letter postal abbreviation. For example, New York members would use the code nyfb. Staff should add staff to their registration code (statefbstaff), as in nyfbstaff.

Sunny Andersen, a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is an intern in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Communications Department.

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