I am as political as an old pair of pants. My often-used line when it comes to inquiries about my political leanings is simple, “I don’t like spending my time trying to figure out who is lying the least.” And that is how I’ve treated every politically-shaped smidgen of dust crossing my path until about two years ago when I realized this: you don’t have to be political to care about legislation.
Legislation, while the product of politics, is ultimately about us – me and you. In agriculture and the beef cattle industry, we face a lot of uphill legislation battles. If it’s not the estate tax threatening inability of young producers to keep the family farm together, it is public lands closed to grazing or the pending decision on the GIPSA rule. All these things are happening to us, so shouldn’t we have a chance to say something about them? We do!
3 Steps to Influence Legislation
- If you have lots of money, go to Washington D.C. and meet with the members of Congress representing your district or working on your issue. It’s easiest to accomplish this with an established group – your state beef commission or FFA chapter. You will probably meet with a legislative aide. Even though they are all about 20 years old, run around in 4-inch heels and continually straighten expensive neckties, they are the people you need to convince about your issue.
- If you have some money, visit your Congressional representatives when they have recessed from the Hill. August is a good time to nab a visit while they’re in your home state. Travel costs are less, and it sure seems like they would be a little less uptight about the whole being a politician thing.
- If you have no money, write a letter. You don’t even need 44 cents; emailing is just as good if not better than snail mail. I never had much faith in writing letters until the day a Senator told me he needed proof from all the farmers that a need existed for a new crop insurance program proposal I was working on. Writing letters can work, especially when those letters are flooding in from all directions.
As I said, I’m about as political as an old pair of pants, but I think I’ve found a pocket for legislation and a voice to raise concerns about issues impacting the way of life I care so much about.