At the end of June, I was presented with the opportunity to give testimony to the Oregon House of Representatives Agriculture Committee on the topic of technology. Having recently installed robotics on our farm, I got to be the voice for dairy on a panel representing different sectors of agriculture across the state. It was a great honor to be included in the conversation, and I definitely learned from my first experience of giving testimony.
Here are a few tips I wanted to share in case you ever find yourself with a similar opportunity.
Be prepared. Make sure you know the details surrounding your testimony. As mainly an informational piece, I was able to use a PowerPoint presentation, which greatly helped share the technology being used on our farm. Be aware of how much time you will have for your testimony and be courteous of those limits. Run through the main points you wish to present ahead of time to help keep yourself on track that day.
Don’t be intimidated. I can honestly say that a year ago I would have never thought I’d be sitting in front of any legislative body giving testimony! It took me a bit to get my nerves under control. It helped for me to remember that the Capitol building is as much mine as the politicians. The only way a democracy works is with engaged citizens; this is just one way I could be sure that dairy’s voice was being heard in all of that.
Make it personal. You can throw facts and figures around all day, and at some point that is definitely appropriate. But if you can share your story behind who you are, who your farm is, and what it means to you and your community, it will leave a lasting impression. Adding your personal story opens the room to an opportunity for connection.At the end of the day, giving testimony is really about sharing yourself as a resource to the dairy industry. Building those relationships with your representatives can lead to lasting connections. The hope is they will think of you, as a dairy farmer, when they face policy that affects farming.
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.