Dec. 13 2023 01:40 PM

Bringing our issues to lawmakers’ attention is the only way they will know what we are facing.

I was reminded recently of my experience lobbying in Washington, D.C. a few years ago while talking with a colleague today. He, too, has lobbied for agriculture and now has the same stance I did on the practice.

Prior to our time spent on the Hill, we both knew lobbying only for its notorious association with corruption. It seemed like money and power were needed to buy influence. However, our direct involvements each showed us a different perspective.

We both learned that lawmakers are not omniscient as so many of us may have assumed. There are so many issues across a vast breadth of people and industries that they may not even be aware of without having been approached and met with to discuss. They rely on their team to help gather insight and feedback, yet still there are limitations. The only way you can be sure they know what issues we face is to show up at their door.

As a dairy girl and agriculture advocate, my experience is not that of most. What may seem obvious to me is often not even on other people’s radar. This is why it is so important to have subject matter experts and people who live these experiences every day in the offices of those making decisions that affect us.

While it might be a bit more pomp and circumstance than many farmers prefer, it is worthwhile to use our voices and educate our political leaders on our issues. They need to hear it from us. You better believe they are hearing it from the other side.

If you have an opportunity to speak up, do it. It turns out that telling your story is not a deal with the devil. Lobbying in my experience is simply bringing awareness of the priorities and needs of our community to lawmakers.

Erin Massey

Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is “Be Bold.”