During this school year, I have the pleasure of being an intern with Edge Dairy Cooperative, a group that is partnered with Minnesota Milk Producers Association. This allowed me to attend the Minnesota Milk Dairy Day at the Capitol, where dozens of dairy farmers from across the state met with legislators to advocate for the needs of the dairy industry.
It was an incredibly busy and exciting day for everyone, and possibly a bit nerve wracking, too. The Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul is a very busy place that is tricky to navigate, especially when it is your first time there. However, the challenge was worth it to try and connect with the 201 total members of the Minnesota legislature. Obviously, connecting with every single member was not going to happen in a day, but in my experience, you don’t need to connect with them all, just enough of them to have your voice heard.
I think back to my time advocating for dairy as an exhibitor at the Wisconsin State Fair. Was I going to be able to speak with and connect to every single fairgoer that I saw? Definitely not. Would I still have a good handful of fulfilling conversations with people who had never seen cows before? Absolutely! And at the end of the day or even by the end of my time at the fair, I felt like I had done my part to share my experiences with others who were not as lucky as me to have that.
No matter what state, region, district, or town you are from, you have people representing you and your ideals. I know it can seem intimidating to reach those “up on the hill,” but if you can connect with at least a couple of those people and they can remember your story when it comes time to vote, then it was worth it. This is especially true when it comes to the legislators who are not from rural areas and don’t have those experiences. That is when it is most important to get to know each other and bridge the gap.
Many farmers out there are already taking bits of time to invite legislators to their farms or to visit their Capitol. If you’ve ever hesitated to do such a thing, try it! You never know what difference you could make until you try, especially when you work with your fellow farmers.
Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper served as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.