Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" various aspects related to advocacy and political trends impacting farmers and ranchers and rural Americans.
State of: Advocacy and the New Normal
Since March 2020 visits to the U.S. Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings and other government buildings in Washington, D.C., were closed or limited to “official business” appointments.
The U.S. Capitol has released a three-phase reopening plan that begins March 28. Under the proposal, which has not been finalized, the Capitol complex will open as follows.
What does advocacy look like going forward? As the country begins purposeful and methodical steps toward post-COVID-19 activities, we are learning what that means for farmer and rancher advocates.
It’s likely a blend of what was happening pre-COVID (in-person meetings) and virtual meetings. What has not changed is meetings with lawmakers and their staff -- virtually or in-person -- are necessary for Farm Bureau to be effective and influential. Farm Bureau relies on farmers and ranchers around the country advocating for ag policies. Whether you are a long-time leader or just getting started in Farm Bureau, you can raise your voice to influence policies impacting agriculture. Learn how to be a successful advocate.
Virtual meetings will likely remain a cornerstone of Capitol Hill and administration engagement. Staff have stated that virtual meetings help maximize their time and schedules.
I encourage advocates and those helping advocates to stay in touch with district offices for “back home” advocacy and to work with individual congressional offices to gauge how they want to approach in-person meetings in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, there are several other ways to deliver a message to policymakers including in-district meetings, virtual fly-ins, letters to the editor, video tours of your farm or ranch and video testimonials.
Most importantly, develop relationships with your members of Congress and their staff. Nothing remains as influential as having a personal connection with those making decisions on ag policy.
I recently saw a video in which a member of Congress told a lobbyist that he needed to hear from constituents. It’s the best way he can understand what his constituents think and how he should vote. This can happen virtually, in-person in Washington, D.C., or the congressional district, on your farm or at a Farm Bureau meeting.
Advocacy will continue in the new normal. How you do it depends on your lawmaker and their staff’s needs, your story and your relationship with that office.
Cody Lyon is AFBF’s managing director of advocacy and political affairs.