Advocacy tips for producers shared
During the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot hosted by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Feb. 23-24, Kaitlynn Glover, NCBA natural resources policy director and Public Lands Council executive director shared the importance of grassroots advocacy. Glover joined NCBA Senior Director of Governmental Affairs Danielle Beck and NCBA Executive Director of Governmental Affairs Allison Rivera during the session.
“Grassroots advocacy is how producers bring their policies and vision to their local governments or to Washington, D.C. and how members of Congress translate policy back to the ground,” Glover explained. “Although advocacy is a catch-all word, it is important to talk about the strategies and tools available to bring priorities to the table and shape the way legislation works.”
Glover, Beck and Rivera presented tools for producers to be the most effective advocate for their issues.
The first steps
The first step, according to Rivera, is requesting a meeting.
“In requesting a meeting with a Congressional member, be sure to plan ahead,” she shared. “Schedules fill up fast, and the earlier one can get in, the more likely their story is going to have an impact.”
Additionally, Rivera noted, making a meaningful connection, such as the town or district producers reside in, is important information and constituents like knowing where people are making connections from.
“Make the connection, whether in person, by phone or through e-mail, personal and professional but also give a sense of what needs to be discussed,” she added. “Try to be flexible as well. Give multiple options for meeting times one could be available for.”
Glover shares the next step is doing some homework.
“An effective advocate is a well-prepared advocate,” she said. “Every member of Congress sits on a number of committees with different functions, and knowing which committees a legislator sits on will be helpful.”
Typically, according to Glover, legislators prioritize issues falling under the jurisdiction of committees they sit on.
“The ability of a Congress member to help really depends on the committees they sit on, their interest level and the time they have,” she explained. “But, staff relationships are just as important as constituent-to-member relationships.”
When contacting the office, the staff holds the key and will provide a point of contact for many years to come.
Making a connection
Beck shares producers should find an issue and make their message brief and focused.
“Pick two or three issues, make a concise message and tailor it to the individual member,” she said. “Make sure to know the facts on issues included in the message, and understand this could be an opportunity to provide education.”
She added if producers have real-life examples, it is beneficial to use them.
“It is important to let legislators know the scope of the issue at home,” she noted. “Additionally, make sure the ‘ask’ in a message is very clearly defined.”
Beck shared the number one goal through advocacy should be to develop a working relationship with the constituent.
“They might not co-sponsor the bill someone asked them to, or they might not have voted the way one asked for, but when they have questions about an issue, getting a call to ask for input is considered a win in my book,” she stated. “This opens a line of communication, establishes a relationship and makes producers a point of contact for information.”
Beck noted this is important, as less than two percent of the U.S. population produces food to feed populations inside and out of the country.
“The constituency of ag producers is shrinking and we need to keep reaching audiences,” she said. “And, we need producers working alongside us order to do so.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.