IFB working to stay connected to federal lawmakers

By Ashley Rice

Illinois Farm Bureau’s staff and members’ meetings with U.S. senators and representatives may look different during times of social distancing, but rest assured they are still happening.

In a recent meeting, IFB staff and directors had the opportunity to meet virtually with U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-West Chicago.

The meeting participants discussed potential additional aid to agriculture, China’s trade purchases, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and concerns about markets and exports.

“We shared where we were in the countryside, what we have experienced,” explained Mark Tuttle, IFB District 1 director, DeKalb County. “There is still a lot of pain at the farm gate, especially in the livestock side, so we shared that.”

“Meeting with constituents and serving our community has looked a little different due to the coronavirus, but the work continues, and I’ve been able to stay connected through virtual events, town halls and meetings,” said Underwood. “I’m thankful that constituents, like those who I recently met with through the Illinois Farm Bureau, have been so flexible during this time. Whether in person or virtually, I always appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the challenges Illinois farmers are facing and how I can continue to support their needs in Congress and through this pandemic.”

While virtual meetings may not entirely replace the benefits of in-person meetings, they do have advantages, such as not requiring travel.

“I think we’re all getting better at learning how to do this (virtual meetings),” said Tuttle. “It’s a learning curve. Who would have thought this is where we would be a year ago? It is what it is, but we’re making the best of a bad situation.”

Not all individuals may have the ability or opportunity to participate in virtual meetings with their legislators. But nonetheless, it is still important to reach out through other means, such as phone calls or emails.

“There is just so much going on,” noted Tuttle. “Just turn the news on and it’s just one story after another. I think we need to make sure that agriculture still has a prominent role in decision-making in Washington, D.C. All these other things can sidetrack a member of Congress’ mind from 20 minutes to half an hour to a day. Because of all these other things, it’s important that we’re there every day and that they know we have a vested interest in this country, and we want them to have a vested interest in us.”

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.