From the Field: Legislative Day at the Capitol

From the Field is a bi-monthly column written by Mark Campbell, Farm Bureau Field Services Director for the Central District. He writes about Farm Bureau member benefits and County Farm Bureau activities.

Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau member Tommy Motley
and Andrew Smith from Governmental Relations meet with
Delegate Rick Morris at the Farm Bureau Legislative
Reception.
We finished another Legislative Day at the Capitol yesterday. Many Farm Bureau members and county FarmBureaus maintain communication with their legislators throughout the year.  However, Legislative Day is an opportunity for members to get right in the middle of the legislative process by visiting offices of their elected representatives and speaking directly with a delegate or senator about current bills.  

For many Farm Bureau members, preparation for this took one or two days of planning back home.  Before leaving their farms, either the night before or early the morning of; farmers had to put out hay for livestock, check water tanks and wells so they didn’t freeze, and numerous other things that had to be done in their absence.  These are things that most of the general public doesn’t have to worry about when they leave for a meeting.  So we, at Virginia Farm Bureau, thank you for your dedication and service.

For members that have not attended before, the process may sound a bit intimidating, but Virginia Farm Bureau makes it easy.  The day kicked off at lunch with a briefing of the issues by our Governmental Relations staff, and the registration packets had everything a person could want to make the visits.  There were bills that members lobbied in favor of or opposed in the areas of Trespass and Private property rights, Right to Farm, Soil and Water Conservation Governance, and Uranium mining. 

Next, members took advantage of the shuttle vans provided by Farm Bureau to get to the legislators’ offices on this very cold day.  One word of caution in the General Assembly Building, you must not be timid on jumping on the elevator when the doors open.  Because when the doors open, there can sometimes be a mad dash to the elevator depending on the time of day.

For those that still aren’t cozy to the idea of meeting with legislators one on one on their turf, consider this:  You can tag along with members from an adjoining county.  Odds are that they are in the same district.  What better way to learn than to watch another county do it?  Soon, your confidence will build and you will likely throw in a few comments of your own. 

To reward your hard work and going out on the front line, Farm Bureau had snack bags for pick up upon returning.  And if that is not enough incentive, a wonderful reception for legislators and members capped off the evening.  

All of our Field Staff made visits with members throughout the afternoon.  We really enjoyed seeing the members in action.  This year, I made visits with member Bob Massey from Spotsylvania.  Spotsylvania, like some counties large in size or containing a large urban area, has many legislators.  On our list were three senators and five delegates.  Plus we visited one urban legislator not representing Spotsylvania Countyto inform them of the issues affecting agriculture.  We had some good visits.  I especially enjoyed our meeting with Senator Bryce Reeves.  We accompanied members from Louisa and Orange counties.  There was a good discussion of the issues, and Senator Reeves asked good questions to better understand the issues and Farm Bureau’s position on the bills.

If you missed Legislative Day, we can still use your help.  We are always seeking members to make contacts to legislators on state and national bills throughout the year.  You District Field Services Director would be glad to help you get involved and show you how to best make your voice be heard.  We are here to help.  

Until next time, 
Mark

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