photo credit: Alabama Farmers Federation, Used with Permission
As farmers and ranchers, we know our work is never fully done. There is always another seed to plant, another crop to harvest, another animal to care for. And our work doesn’t stop at the farm gate either. We must also be actively engaged in shaping the policies that impact agriculture and our rural communities. That’s why it is critical for our grassroots Farm Bureau members to make their voices heard on policies that directly impact their farms and ranches.
Across Farm Bureau, the 2024 policy process has already begun. Our Issue Advisory Committees (IACs) came together in February to kick off this year-long process. These committees, made up of grassroots members and supported by state and national Farm Bureau staff, are tasked with identifying the most pressing issues facing agriculture and developing policy proposals to address them. The reports from these committees are used to inform the policy development work of state and county Farm Bureaus, which eventually make their way to the American Farm Bureau Convention in January, where we finalize our national policy priorities.
Why is this grassroots policy process so important? Because together we can speak as the national Voice of Agriculture, and our lawmakers know that the policies we’re advocating for are coming straight from farm and ranch families. Whether I am meeting with leaders in Washington, or AFBF staff is weighing-in with federal agency staff, or Farm Bureau members and leaders from across the country are sitting down with their representatives—we are telling the story of how federal policy directly impacts your farm or ranch.
It is critical for farmers to be at the table providing feedback on regulations and policy proposals that impact our ability to safely and sustainably grow our nation’s food, fiber and fuel.
Federal laws and regulations also impact our rural communities and the ability of farmers and ranchers to pass our farms down to the next generation. For example, changes to labor policy impact the availability of workers for agriculture, as well as other jobs supported by agriculture across the food chain. Investments in infrastructure, including broadband, impact the ability of our communities to attract and retain young people. And funding for research and development will have long-term impacts on advancements in innovation on the farm and career opportunities to spur growth in agriculture.
As stewards of the land, we are committed to protecting our natural resources and ensuring that our farms are sustainable for future generations. But it is critical for farmers to be at the table providing feedback on regulations and policy proposals that impact our ability to safely and sustainably grow our nation’s food, fiber and fuel. Farm Bureau is leading the way to ensure that farmers and ranchers are treated as partners in our efforts to protect our natural resources through voluntary programs that are grounded in science and flexible, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work for agriculture.
I could fill a whole book with examples of how grassroots policy strengthens agriculture across the country as it guides our advocacy efforts and ultimately helps shape federal laws and regulations. That’s why it’s so important for every member of our organization to be engaged in the policy development process. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and shape the policies that will make a difference on your farm and in your community.
Farm Bureau’s success depends on our members attending county meetings and participating in policy discussions. It depends on members sharing their experiences and insights with policymakers and advocating for policies that support the long-term viability of agriculture and rural communities. Together, we can ensure that the unified Voice of Agriculture is heard loud and clear in Washington and that our policies help strengthen American farms and ranches for generations to come.