With the legislative sessions in full affect in Olympia and Salem, farmers often feel their concerns are not represented in state government. Mary Anne Cooper, public policy director with the Oregon Farm Bureau, said farmers cannot be discouraged, and they need to continue to tell their story not only to educate lawmakers, but their neighbors as well.
“You know, anymore in public policy, we feel like we’re playing a game of whack a mole, where you spend a long time fighting an issue to find in pop up in a different issue or in a different format, and I do think that gets discouraging for our folks over time but I do feel like they are resilient and adaptive.”
Cooper said with so many key pieces of legislation before state lawmakers it’s important that farmers make calls, write letter or even travel over the Cascades to the state capital. And while it can be time consuming, it’s important farmers remember that fewer and fewer lawmakers are connected to the Ag industry, which increases the need of active communication.
“Yeah, they are not going to inherently understand you. It’s going to take a lot of education and work to get them there, but we have a number of success stories of stories of legislators that had no idea about anything in agriculture or they said “Oh yeah, I go to my local Farmers Market and I like them, but I don’t know anything beyond that. And if you spend time and invest there are a lot of people you can reach.”
Cooper added when it comes to eastern Oregon, farmers have several good representatives and senators in the state house, but more voices are always appreciated.
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