Walk Like a Politician
This one is for the agriculturists and the agriculturists only.
Last night, I attended our county Farm Bureau’s meeting as I am the new committee chair of the Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Committee. This basically means it’s my job to get young adults involved in Farm Bureau.
On my drive home, I thought about ways to appeal to “young farmers and ranchers” in our county, and I had some ideas for fun, social-driven events – maybe some live music mixed with a little general ag talk, free beer for YF&R members with a little dose of ag trivia, steak dinner plus an educational speaker. You know, a good balance of social and professional to appeal to potential YF&R members and keep them coming back so one day, they will be the ones presenting ag policy to the Senate Ag Committee as a Farm Bureau representative – big dreams, I know.
My thought process behind this is simple, “give a little to get a little.”
And this statement, my friends, is what this entire column could be summed up as. But if you know me, you know I can’t just leave it at that.
If it wasn’t for agriculture feeding and clothing the masses, there wouldn’t be any other industries. In my completely biased, but well thought out opinion: We are the backbone of society.
Because of this, there are a lot of big decisions being made regarding agriculture such as trade policy, land and water acts, labeling laws, you name it. And because of THAT, there are umpteen opinions spanning across a spectrum as wide as the Mississippi River, from radical view to a “who cares?” attitude.
Those stances are all well and good, but they don’t allow us to move forward.
In order to get anything done, we can’t demand one harsh opinion against another – we’ve got to compromise or “meet in the middle,” if you will.
Meeting in the middle is a practice used in friendships, office culture, marriages, politics and so much more. Essentially, it means you’ve got to compromise for everyone to win.
I think, for the betterment of agriculture, we’ve got to meet in the middle every once in a while.
Say, “Okay animal rights activists, I see you’re upset about animal welfare. Let’s develop an animal welfare law which fills a few of your needs and a few of ours.”
You have to realize at some point, in order for your thoughts and opinions to be heard and later put into action, you’ve got to bump elbows with people you normally wouldn’t.
Examples of executing this beautifully are through ag industry organizations. Everyone and their dog has ag industry organizations they support and other organizations they don’t.
For me, for a long time there, I absolutely loathed the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
Ask me why? I had a laundry list of reasons, all of which were built on the foundation of “they just give too much to our enemies” – namely the fact they shared a seat at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef beside the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a historical opposer to animal agriculture. However, these opinions were formed before I learned about “tact.”
Tact, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means “adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues.”
In layman’s terms: Be graceful and clever in dealing with your problems.
Although I don’t agree with everything NCBA has ever done, and I might add, I shouldn’t – ag industry organizations know how to compromise, and this is the point. Everyone leaves with a technical “win,” but no one leaves happy with everything.
I learned why they worked with WWF.
They had to give a little and get a little in return. In order to get their agenda on the radar, they had to hear someone else out and work together toward an end goal.
It’s all very political; you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and it all comes down to compromise.
This is not a new concept; I mean, think back to the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Do you think they stayed in the humid room in Philadelphia for 116 days agreeing with everything everyone said?
They compromised, came to an agreement and worked together for a better tomorrow. And we as agriculturists need to realize our ag industry organizations are doing the very same thing.
The American Seed Trade Association can’t go to the Ag Senate Committee with a list of demands and expect them all to be met.
The president of the National Pork Board can’t march into a meeting on international trade and expect to leave supplying the entire world with U.S. pork.
The Secretary of Agriculture can’t snap his fingers and expect the Department of Justice to arrest the head honchos of the Big Four Packers.
But all of these organizations and officials listed above, along with many more, can get a version of what they want if they meet in the middle.
In order for anything to get done – and actually get done, not just be added to an agenda and tabled until the next meeting – we’ve got to think like politicians, make deals, work together and most importantly, do it tactfully.