Have you made an appointment with your Congressman yet?
It’s the middle of the August in-district work session for all elected officials. This is the time when they come back to their district, connect with their constituents, and better understand the issues they are attempting to resolve in Washington, DC.
Your Congressman wants to understand the struggles you are likely having on your farm. They need to hear about your profitability concerns – and what you think would resolve or alleviate some of the issues. They want to understand what is preventing your son or daughter from coming back to the farm, or even what is helping the family to bring a son or daughter back.
Without these conversations, we simply can’t expect our Illinois delegation to represent Illinois farmers. They have to hear from farmers in their own districts what factors are having an impact on Illinois farms.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CONGRESSIONAL APPOINTMENT
- Call whichever district office for your Congressman is closest to you. Ask when the Congressman will be in and make an appointment.
- Think about your top three concerns. It’s hard to reduce it down to just three, but your meeting will be much more productive if you focus in on just the few most important things.
- Be prepared to talk about your three top priorities and how they are impacting YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR COMMUNITY. Your Congressman is much less interested in talking points, and much more interested in you. The good thing about this one is you don’t have to look up data and statistics if that’s not what you’re good at. You don’t have to flood the Congressman with information or justification about your worry. You simply have to tell him or her that this issue is impacting the health of your family, your family budget, your retirement plan, etc. Information on how much extra the concern could cost your family is relevant, but you really don’t need more data than that!
- When you enter the office, share your name and a business card with the staff that greets you. Grab a business card from the office staff as well.
- When your Congressman is able to sit down with you, share your concerns, be respectful, and be prepared for a conversation. He or she may disagree with the way you’d fix this particular issue and that’s ok. Elected officials are ready to hear from folks with many different viewpoints, and can actually have their minds changed if they hear from enough of their constituents that disagree with their point of view.
- After the visit, email a thank you note to the staff business card you grabbed. Ask the staff to relay your thanks to the Congressman and reiterate your three priorities. Staff are often following issues and briefing the elected official so making sure staff understands your concerns is just as important!
If you aren’t sure what your top three priorities would be, consider the priorities of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and how they apply to you and your family farm!
- Profitability – Farmers are struggling to make ends meet on the farm, so IL Corn is most interested in programs that will grow demand for corn like ethanol and trade.
- Crop Insurance – Farm families need crop insurance to protect them from significant losses and IL Corn wants to preserve the crop insurance program and all its funding.
- Lock and Dams – Trade is the largest market for Illinois corn. The Federal government must fund lock and dam upgrades or risk losing our advantage in the global marketplace.
Finally, if you need any help setting up a meeting with your Congressman or preparing for a meeting you’ve already set up, give us a call! We’re happy to help.