Commentary: In-person meetings with legislators benefit farmers


Issue Date: March 18, 2015
By Casey Gudel
Casey Gudel
San Joaquin Farm Bureau members Bruce Fry, center, and Joe Valente, right, meet with state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani at the state Capitol. Face-to-face meetings help elected officials understand the impact of their decisions on farmers and ranchers.
Photo/Christine Souza

This past week, nearly 100 Farm Bureau members converged upon the state Capitol in Sacramento to have face-to-face meetings with elected officials from across the state, as a part of the annual California Farm Bureau Leaders Conference. All in all, our members participated in more than 90 meetings and dropped materials off at the remaining offices, essentially making contact at every state legislative office.

Such face-to-face meetings are crucial in making sure that elected officials understand how the actions they take can affect the lives and businesses of California family farmers and ranchers.

Every day, our elected officials make decisions affecting thousands of pieces of legislation on dozens and dozens of topics. They receive phone calls, emails and letters from constituents and advocates seeking to affect their votes. An in-person visit from a farmer or rancher allows legislators and their staff members literally to put a face to an issue, turning what could otherwise be an abstract topic into a specific concern.

Having farmers and ranchers participate in the political process only complements and strengthens the Farm Bureau political program, making our actions even more effective. It is similar to a three-legged stool - without a strong base in every corner, the stool would collapse.

For Farm Bureau, our strength relies upon:

  • Our members' participation in grassroots activities that express the real impacts of votes made by our elected officials;
  • Our Farm Bureau staff who walk the halls of the state Capitol and advocate on your behalf every day; and
  • The voluntary support by our members for the California Farm Bureau Fund to Protect the Family Farm, which supports the election of business-friendly representatives.

By staying in face-to-face contact with your elected officials, you assure that they continue to recognize Farm Bureau as a true grassroots organization focused on protecting California family farms and ranches.

You are probably thinking, "When do I have time to visit my elected official's office?" Staying engaged isn't just about making visits. It's also crucial to write, email or call your elected officials to make sure they're aware of the impact their votes may have on farmers' ability to produce food and agricultural products.

We make staying engaged in the political process easy, through a Web-based program we call FARM TEAM. As a FARM TEAM subscriber, you have exclusive access to emailed Action Alerts that contain the latest information that could affect your business. In less than five minutes, you can customize a pre-drafted letter on our website to send to your local officials about a specific issue.

If you are already a FARM TEAM member, our Action Alerts will start ramping up as legislation begins to make its way through the committee process. Remember, it may not be your issue today, but it could be tomorrow, so every letter helps. If you are not a member, visit www.cfbf.com and click on the FARM TEAM icon to start receiving our email Action Alerts.

Regardless of how you participate—whether it is supporting the Fund to Protect the Family Farm, taking part in legislative visits, making a phone call or writing an email—you are helping protect the future of family farming and ranching in California.

(Casey Gudel is director of political affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at cgudel@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.