Commentary: Here’s how to be politically active for agriculture

Issue Date: July 8, 2015
By Casey Gudel
Casey Gudel

As farmers and ranchers are well aware, political representation in California continues to shift from rural areas to more urbanized areas. That change in representation can lead to changes in laws and regulations that make it increasingly difficult for agricultural businesses to conduct their day-to-day operations.

The saying that there is strength in numbers has never been more valid, and taking action is not a one-person job. Farm Bureau provides a number of tools to allow farmers, ranchers and other rural residents to create a stronger voice in the public policy arena.

Become the decision maker: People involved in agriculture benefit from farmers and ranchers who serve at all levels of government and who can help fellow decision makers understand both the challenges farmers face and the benefits they provide to their local communities.

Have you considered running for your local school board, irrigation district board, city council, county board of supervisors, the state Legislature or even the U.S. Congress? Farmers and ranchers already have knowledge of agricultural issues and of running a business, but to help them reach elected office they need the strategic knowledge to run a campaign.

A consistent goal for Farm Bureau has been to encourage more farmers and ranchers to become involved in the policymaking process. To further that goal, Farm Bureau hosts Campaign Management Seminars for people who are considering jumping into the political arena, to give them the foundation needed to win elections. Our latest seminar will be held later this month; see the information at the end of this commentary.

Regardless of what level of political involvement you are pursuing, the Campaign Management Seminar teaches invaluable lessons, including understanding the mechanics of a campaign, message development, and creating a campaign budget and finance plan. Campaigning can be a rough-and-tumble business, but this seminar will equip you with the tactical skills and knowledge you need to win on Election Day.

Not sure that holding an elected office is in your future? There are other ways to become involved that are equally important.

FARM PAC®: The California Farm Bureau Fund to Protect the Family Farm, or FARM PAC, has been a leading voice for farming and ranching in the political arena for more than 30 years. In order to continue to compete in today's political climate, FARM PAC must continue to raise a sufficient amount of funds to provide financial support to business-friendly candidates.

Those of us who live in rural California cannot vote in urban districts, of course, but we can help elect leaders who respect what we do and who understand that water, crop-protection materials and other factors are required to provide Californians with the safe, fresh food they are accustomed to. FARM PAC has been actively seeking and helping to elect leaders who are committed to finding permanent solutions to today's challenges, and who are not bound to failed policies of the past.

Every dollar counts, so regardless of how you participate—it may be checking the box on your Farm Bureau membership renewal, responding to a fundraising letter or participating in a local event—contributing to FARM PAC means you are protecting your proud agricultural heritage for generations to come.

FARM TEAM: As an agriculturalist, you must also take on the role of an activist. Through FARM TEAM, Farm Bureau provides you with the tools you need to make your voice heard effectively on important legislation and pending regulations. When it comes to legislation or regulation that impacts farms and ranches, there is no better messenger than farmers and ranchers.

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 on a specific issue.

Impacting the outcome of policy decisions takes many people at different levels. You can be part of the solution—and Farm Bureau is here to help. Visit to learn more about these programs.

(Casey Gudel is manager of political affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at


Have you considered running for elected office?

Learn the ins and outs of running a successful campaign at Farm Bureau's Campaign Management Seminar, July 21-22 in Sacramento.

Accomplishing agriculture's priorities can be made simpler with men and women elected to office who understand the challenges facing agriculture.

For more information, visit or call 916-561-4500.

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