April 4 2017 02:00 PM

It’s one of the most important relationships you can have.

Do you know who your representatives are on the state and federal level? If your answer to this question is no, do your industry a favor and Google them right now.

My answer to that same question two years ago would have also been no. Trust me when I say, I am probably the last person who would say I wanted to be involved at the legislative level. Through recent leadership programs, I have learned just how important it is to not only know who my representatives are, but also build a relationship with them.

I was once again reminded of this importance last week as I joined our Oregon Dairy Farmers Association for their yearly Dairy Day at the Capitol. It is a fun event where we bring dairy products to the Capitol to share throughout the day. Cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream highlight the flavorful diversity of Oregon dairy. The most important part of the day, besides making everyone happy with delicious products, is the legislative appointments we attend. Breaking into groups, we take on as many appointments with our legislators as possible.

The meetings consist of a quick introduction of ourselves and a few talking points on some of the bills we are watching this session that either have the potential for a positive or negative impact on our operations. They are short and sweet interactions, but they have a lasting impact on the whole Capitol building, reminding our policymakers of the presence and importance of the dairy industry in our state.

Even if your state doesn’t hold such an event, I really encourage you to not only find out who your representatives are, but reach out to them. A simple e-mail introducing yourself as one of their constituents goes a long way for raising their awareness of your existence in their district.

I’m sure you are all aware of the fact that our consumers are sometimes many generations removed from any form of agriculture. Some of those consumers end up holding offices and positions of power. As our representatives, they then are voting on our behalf on legislation that sometimes will have a direct impact on how we run our dairy operations. By introducing ourselves and building that relationship as their constituent, we hope that when they go to vote, they can keep us dairy farmers in mind.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and is in the process of transitioning to a robotic milking system.

Nigel Cook, D.V.M.

Join us April 10, 2017 for the webinar
“A breath of fresh air – ventilating barns"
Nigel Cook, D.V.M., University of Wisconsin-Madison

This webinar will cover basic design concepts required for effective natural ventilation and examine the reasons producers struggle to keep cows cool in summer. He will discuss ventilation systems in seven different U.S. regions.

Register here for all webinars.