I haven’t shared a whole lot about Farm Bureau on my blog yet, but if you follow me on Facebook you may have noticed I’m a bit of a Farm Bureau nerd! I was a county intern in college, spent two years as an Ag in the Classroom Coordinator, have participated in ALOT, Action Teams, and Discussion Meet, and am currently serving as our county’s Young Leader Chairman.
It’s safe to say Farm Bureau is a true passion of mine. (I think I can thank my family for that. They have been active in the organization for quite some time!)
As I’ve become more involved in Farm Bureau at both the county and state levels, I have really taken an interest in agricultural issues and legislation. I’m no expert in political science, and I didn’t even really vote up until a few years ago, but I’m finding a new confidence in myself that makes me want to take a stand for the issues that are affecting our industry every day.
This brings me to FB Act. If you are friends with me on social media, you have probably seen me blowing up your feed asking you to “Act Now!” or “Make Your Voice Heard Today!” Each time a major piece of agricultural legislation is up for a vote, Illinois Farm Bureau sends out an action request asking members to contact legislators and encourage them to vote one way or another. This is a simple and effective way to make our voices heard on the issues we feel the most passionate about.
But there is one little problem: Of the 400,000+ Illinois Farm Bureau members, typically less than 2,000 actually respond to action requests. That’s less than half of a percent. For being one of the leading state Farm Bureau organizations in the nation, I think we can do way better.
So because I’m a Farm Bureau nerd, and I want to encourage as many people as possible to begin participating in action requests, I figured I could take a minute to address a few misconceptions that might be holding people back.
Misconception #1: You have to be a farmer to participate in FB Act.
While Farm Bureau exists to support our nation’s farmers, you do not have to be a farmer yourself to get involved. If you have a passion for the industry, you are welcome to stand up for it! Any member can respond to action requests. In fact, it is highly encouraged!
Misconception #2: You have to know all of the information regarding a piece of legislation before responding to an action request.
No one expects you to be an expert on every issue that comes before Congress. If you were, we would probably suggest you run for office! When Illinois Farm Bureau sends out an action request, they briefly explain the issue and how we should encourage our legislators to vote. This helps ensure that we can all respond with a unified voice.
Misconception #3: You have to speak directly with an elected official.
I was so scared to start responding to action requests for this very reason. You mean I have to talk on the phone? To a person I don’t know? Count me out. In reality, Illinois Farm Bureau could not make it any easier to get in touch with our legislators. When you click on the link to an action request, you are directed to a webpage that prompts you to enter your name and address. Most of the time, Illinois Farm Bureau has an email already written for you. All you have to do is hit send! The FB Act system automatically chooses which legislators to send your email to based on your address. It’s seriously that easy!
Misconception #4: Sending emails to our legislators makes no real impact.
It’s true that a phone call is more personal than an email. But imagine if we all came together to flood our legislators’ inboxes with the same message at the same time. We have an organization that is over 400,000 members strong. Something tells me 400,000 emails would help get our message across.
Don’t be afraid to join FB Act today!
I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I say it, but now more than ever, we need to make our voices heard. I am honored to be a part of an organization that gives me the confidence to speak up for the issues I feel so strongly about. A few years ago, I would have never imagined I would be contacting my legislators on a regular basis. Now I even have my Representative’s cell phone number saved in my phone! Farm Bureau and FB Act have helped me to break out of my shell and take an interest in the legislative process.
Our legislators represent us. They want to hear from us. Don’t be afraid to get involved and make a difference with FB Act!
Call your county Farm Bureau or click here to find more information on the Illinois Farm Bureau FB Act program, or to sign up to receive FB Act alerts.