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Commentary: Make time in August to reach out to elected officials

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One of the best things about Congress closing their doors in our nation’s capital and heading home for the August recess is that representatives are active in their district offices and in the field, meeting with their constituents. Not only does Congress pack their bags and head home for the end of summer, the California Legislature does as well.

These district work periods give you the opportunity to truly engage in the fundamental process of influencing policy that affects you on the farm and ranch. During this time at home, legislators are looking for opportunities to meet with you, their constituents—so there is no better time to connect with them than now.

The state Legislature has been on recess since July 21 and returns to session in just a few weeks, on Aug. 21, but there is still ample time to reach out. The Congressional Summer Recess began on July 31, and Congress is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 5, leaving a good deal of time to contact your representatives while they are in their home districts, either by scheduling a meeting or hosting a farm or ranch tour.

This August recess is especially shaping up to be a busy one, filled with political activities focused around agriculture.

Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and members of the House Agriculture Committee will be in Modesto this coming Saturday, Aug. 5, for a listening session on “The Next Farm Bill.” The following week, on Aug. 10, the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and other members of the committee will be in the Monterey area for the same purpose.

As producers in the nation’s top agricultural state, California farmers and ranchers will certainly be affected by federal farm policy, as will our neighbors who benefit from the nutrition programs contained in the farm bill. Opportunities for comment, such as these listening sessions, are rare, so there is no better time than now to engage in the process and let your voices be heard.

In addition to attending these listening sessions, we encourage you to invite congressional representatives, legislators and their staff members to your summer events or board meetings. Farmers, ranchers and people involved in agricultural businesses must continue to tell our elected representatives about what policies are working and which ones are hurting agriculture.

Although this is a busy time for farmers and ranchers in California, it is important to make time for this outreach. As you know, building relations with your elected officials is key to participating in the political process.

The California Farm Bureau Federation Political Affairs Department has several resources to help you with your outreach, including tips for contacting your elected officials and for hosting farm tours.

Look for updates from CFBF and your county Farm Bureaus in the coming weeks regarding key bills and other top issues at the state and federal levels. Both the state Legislature and Congress will have a busy few months once they return from recess. You can also stay up to date on these issues and participate in part of our advocacy process through FARM TEAM® at www.cfbf.com/farmteam.

If you have any questions or need assistance in reaching out to your elected officials, during the August recess or any time, please contact us at 916-561-4500.

(Chelsea Molina is manager of political affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at cmolina@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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