Most people, even in an agricultural state such as Indiana, are two or more generations off the farm. That includes local, state and national elected officials.
Farmers have the responsibility to give decision makers the background and context they need to make the decisions that impact farmers’ lives. Inviting elected officials to experience life and business on a modern farm impacts the perceptions representatives have about the industry and its people, according to Indiana Farm Bureau’s public policy team.
One of the best ways to educate these officials is with a farm visit. The public policy team encourages members to work with their county leadership to plan on-farm pre-legislative visits with their representatives and senators before the end of the year. This is a great opportunity for legislators to learn about key Farm Bureau issues and to understand modern agriculture, such as the impact of technology on farming today.
When Indiana Farm Bureau members and staff work with elected officials on the issues that matter most to the Indiana agriculture community, they often have a lot of educating to do –especially about animal agriculture.
Wabash County President Mark York hosted Andy Zay, a new state senator, on his hog farm in early June.
“Hosting farm visits for elected officials is a great way to introduce them to modern agriculture,” said York. “It’s important to show the technology we have in these barns. This is not yesterday’s technology and we rely heavily on internet access.”
York said the experience was very valuable and encouraged others to do the same.
“It’s an opportunity to show them what’s behind the door, which for me is essentially just showing care for my pigs,” he explained. “If you don’t know your legislators, then they don’t know you and the value of the work that you do.”
Farmers should ask themselves if there’s anything they’re doing on their farms this year that a legislator or local official could benefit from seeing firsthand. If there is, contact your county president to discuss the opportunity.
“When it comes to educating our local, state and national elected officials, nothing compares to an experience on a farm,” said Justin Schneider, director of state government relations. “It’s important that we show them firsthand the care Indiana farmers put into their work.”