By TRACY GRONDINE
For the Capital Press
It's that time of year again. We are in the full swing of summer, which means backyard barbecues, baseball games and beach holidays. It also means congressional August recess. While taking time to visit your congressional member may not be as enjoyable or relaxing as taking in a ball game, it is nonetheless extremely important.
It was the great Jackie Robinson who once said that life is not a spectator sport. We should all be on the field, instead of in the grandstand, anytime we have the chance. August recess offers such an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to reconnect with their congressional members, advocate for legislative issues that personally affect them and hopefully, in the long run, hit a home run for agriculture.
There is a handful of Farm Bureau priority issues currently being debated, or in some cases percolating, in Congress. In fact, the bases are loaded. On first is tax reform. The Water Resources Development Act is on second. Rounding third is agriculture labor reform. And heading home is passage of the farm bill.
So, how can we ensure victory for agriculture? By taking full advantage of August recess. What matters most when working with members of Congress is personal contact. And there's not a better time to make that connection than when they are in their own neck of the woods.
Farmer grassroots activism can be as simple as scheduling a meeting with a lawmaker in a district office, inviting him or her out to the farm, attending a town hall meeting or even picking up the phone to voice your opinion to staff in Washington.
And don't forget the weight of the media -- both traditional and social. Summer is a good time to visit with local newspaper editors and reporters to spell out Farm Bureau's legislative priorities and garner some press attention. It's also prime time to spread agriculture's messages through social media. Farmers can easily knock out several tweets while sitting on their tractors or eating lunch on their pickup truck tailgates.
For the latest news on key issues and current legislation status, along with helpful talking points and even a means to contact lawmakers, don't forget FBAct Insider as an important resource at fbactinsider.org.
As the baseball saying goes, nothing is given -- everything is earned 90 feet at a time. August recess is not only an opportunity for farmers to protect the plate on issues like the farm bill, ag labor, tax reform and water transportation, it's a chance to bring them home.
Let's play ball.
Tracy Grondine is director of media relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.