The value of political engagement

CulpKendell_GrassrootsAdvocacyBy now, you’ve likely seen the AgELECT political action committee booth at Indiana Farm Bureau events or perhaps you read one of the articles about it in this publication. However, as the PAC chair at INFB, I wanted to share a message on the importance and value of AgELECT.

AgELECT was launched in September 2017, and its purpose is to support ag-friendly candidates seeking office in the Indiana General Assembly. Contributions to the PAC also can be used to support state legislative caucus events. The creation of this new PAC was essential in order for INFB to maintain and grow its political influence at the Statehouse.

As an organization, our involvement in races for state office has increased over the years. It is critical for INFB to have the means to support candidates who value farmers and agriculture. Funds collected for AgELECT will assist candidates who have a desire to help agriculture through policy. Contributions from the PAC are used by candidates to help fund their campaigns. These contributions are vital when an ag-friendly candidate is running against someone who is not so inclined to support agriculture.

The percentage of citizens in Indiana who actively farm or who have first-hand experience in the agriculture industry is lower than it has ever been.  Quite often, those running for an elected position have little to no agricultural experience. However, the AgELECT PAC will help us get our foot in the door with these potential state senators and representatives. Before candidates are chosen for endorsement, they are interviewed by Farm Bureau members to determine their willingness to consider the agricultural perspective and other aspects that factor into their electability.

Through the AgELECT endorsement process, our members make those important connections with the candidates on the ground floor. If the candidate endorsed by AgELECT wins his or her election, INFB already has a solid relationship to work from as the elected official begins making policy decisions. The hope is that INFB will remain a trusted source and partner throughout the duration of that person’s time as a public servant.

There is no question that INFB is well-respected at the Statehouse. I see it every year as our members make their legislative visits. Many of our members have terrific relationships with their legislators. Many members are able to call or text their legislator directly. Although our numbers in terms of population are small, our influence is big.

With AgELECT, we can keep it that way.