News and Commentary - Voice of Idaho Agriculture
"Normal" People Matter
It’s been a great first year - both a pleasure and a privilege to serve as president of the Idaho Farm Bureau. I’ve met a lot of new people and learned a lot about agriculture, policy making and the management of natural resources across this country.
As an organization we’ve made progress toward our goals but we still have room for improvement. At this time I want to issue another challenge to our membership. At the risk of starting to sound like a broken record, we all need to be more active both in the policy development process and in working together to support our policies once they are adopted.
During our last state board meeting, one of our board members, Senator Mark Harris from Bear Lake County, made a comment that resonated. He said “normal people” matter when it comes to testifying in front of legislative committees. What he meant was legislators are bombarded with messages from dozens, maybe hundreds of special interest groups during every session. To him, it’s refreshing when a farmer, rancher, carpenter, plumber or really anyone from the private sector takes the time to travel to Boise, gather the courage to step up to the microphone and explain the benefits or drawbacks they see in a particular piece of legislation. Further, what Senator Harris means is lobbyists are professionals and most do an excellent job of supporting their employer’s point of view. But as a state senator he has to pick through those statements and try to decipher how the legislation might affect his constituents. Whereas with a “normal” person, they’re firsthand experts, working every day to earn a living and find his or her piece of the American dream, and although their message typically isn’t as refined, it’s genuine.
I would like to commend Senator Harris as he leaves the Idaho Farm Bureau Board of Directors. It’s been a pleasure serving on the Board with him. He is one of those people who doesn’t say a lot but when he speaks, people listen. He was appointed to the Idaho Senate about a year ago and was elected by his constituents this year. He serves a geographically diverse district of both urban and rural areas stretching from Teton County south to Bear Lake County. I would like to recognize his service to the Idaho Farm Bureau and wish him well in future endeavors.
As we set our priorities for the next legislative session and the political drama begins to unfold, I want all of you to understand that your opinions matter and we as the largest general farm organization in Idaho rely on your voices to help convey important messages about the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy. We need to use our organization to make our voices heard on core issues like private property rights, the management of natural resources, taxes, and many others.
We will be sending out Action Alerts during the legislative session. If you haven’t participated in this process, make sure to pass along your email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org and check your email daily. Action Alerts inform our members about issues and ask members to send a message to their legislators. It’s one of the best ways to communicate with legislators during the busy session. You can also telephone or use regular mail to communicate with legislators. Also watch for our weekly Capital Reflections newsletter to stay informed. You can also follow the Idaho Farm Bureau on Facebook, or on our website at www.idahofb.org.
Remember that our political system is run by the people who show up. Farmers and ranchers make up only 2 percent of our nation’s population. That means we have to show up and make our voices heard both in Boise and in Washington D.C.