Heads turned on Capitol Hill this week to admire the cowboy hats and boots strolling through the halls of congress. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was raised on a cattle farm in North Carolina and this week I joined other cattle producers from across the nation for the 2014 National Cattleman’s Beef Association Legislative Conference. During the conference the attendees discussed issues facing the cattle industry and how their ranches could be affected. By visiting the offices the cattlemen were able to share their personal stories and become a point of contact for the congressional members and their staff. Hopefully congressional staff will put their new contacts to use when they have questions about farming and ranching.
I also got the pleasure of serving as the chaperone for four fantastic young ladies on the National Beef Ambassador Team. It is refreshing to see young people so enthusiastic about animal agriculture. The members of the team accompanied their state groups on Capitol Hill and were engaged in the discussions while providing a new perspective from the next generation of ranchers. They also took lots of fun pictures and videos of their time in Washington D.C. (this boot picture credit goes to the team!) and used their millennial flare to spark discussions online.
It always amazes me to hear about the wide array of issues facing agriculture on a daily basis. Cattlemen don’t just focus on animal health issues and beef markets, they also have to pay attention to issues with trade, transportation, environment, nutrition, small business ownership and many other issues that don’t necessarily come to mind when thinking about cattle. All of the animal protein groups have to monitor legislation, not just about their animals, but about issues affecting all of agriculture. Keeping up to date on legislative initiatives at the state and federal level should become part of running your business.
I know what some of you are thinking right now, I wish I owned cattle so that I could be a part of this amazing experience. Well, HAVE NO FEAR! Nearly every animal protein group has a national fly-in day here in D.C. I also got to visit with some of the pork producers last week when they visited Washington D.C. for their legislative conference. There are plenty of opportunities to visit Washington D.C. to talk to your members of congress. If you can’t make it to town for a legislative fly-in, call your member of congress, write them an email, or come on your own and talk to your national organizations about setting up meetings. Many legislators are even active on social media, so if you’re so inclined: send them a tweet or Facebook message! There are so many outlets available to reach out to your legislators and become engaged in the discussion. So what are you waiting for? Let’s see those heads turn when your boots make their way through the halls of congress!
And remember—the Alliance tracks state legislation and updates our interactive map every Thursday, so let us be your one-stop-shop to keep you up to speed on legislation in your state!