The Rural Route to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture August 18, 2015

As the 2016 election nears, all eyes will be on presidential hopefuls as they debate, shake hands with constituents, kiss a baby or two and, perhaps most importantly, make their way through the well-traveled roads of rural America.

This election cycle, Agri-Pulse is highlighting the agricultural perspective of the election and documenting candidates’ positions on key farming and ranching issues through its new series, “The Rural Route to the White House.”

“We’d like to be your ‘go to’ source for information about the candidates and their positions on farm and rural issues,” Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse editor, said.

The series will include a biography on every candidate, following them through the primaries and into the general election, as well as articles highlighting their positions on agricultural issues such as immigration, trade and farm programs.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the exclusive sponsor of the series, encouraging farmers and ranchers to become informed, active and engaged throughout the 2016 election cycle.

“It’s incredibly important for our members, and all rural voters, to know the candidates and how their positions would affect life on the farm and in rural communities,” said Cody Lyon, AFBF director of advocacy and political affairs.

Year round, Farm Bureau focuses on advocating for agriculture from a grassroots level through issue campaigns, leadership training and social media engagement. The Farm Bureau advocacy page,, is currently encouraging farmers and ranchers to reach out to their senators and representatives while they are home during the August recess.

Lyon suggests that state fairs and farm shows provide a great opportunity for some “old-fashioned retail politics: hand shaking and in-person conversations about the importance of American agriculture.”

These tried and true methods of grassroots advocacy can be applied to the upcoming 2016 election as well. Agri-Pulse urges rural constituents to “take a ‘selfie’ with a candidate at a local meet and greet” or “talk with a candidate at a local coffee shop or town hall and take a video.”

Farm Bureau Advocacy, or FB Advocacy, also suggests rural voters stay constantly engaged during the election season, donating or volunteering on specific campaigns when possible. Most important, however, is showing up on Election Day.

The 2012 election saw lower voter turnout rates than in 2008, with rural community turnout dropping by twice the national average. James Gimpel, a University of Maryland political scientist, told the Daily Yonder that the voting turnout on Election Day suggests that “neither of the candidates inspired rural voters to go vote.”

With Agri-Pulse’s new “Rural Route to the White House” series, rural voters can become engaged, informed and excited about 2016’s presidential hopefuls while they follow their campaign trail through the dusty back roads of the American countryside.

For more information on the “Rural Route to the White House,” visit

You can send your photos or videos to

For all voting registration questions visit

Jessica Wharton is a communications assistant at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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