This week I am in Washington, D.C., on Kansas Farm Bureau’s Leaders Engaged and Acting in D.C. (LEADs) trip. I must admit that I always enjoy coming to our nation’s capital. Coming here involves many surreal moments for me. This past week I sat down on a bench in the mall and looked around. In one direction was the Capitol itself, how many times is it the backdrop for news stories we watch on our TV. Today, not only will I see the Capitol, I will be inside on business for our Kansas Farm Bureau. Heady stuff for a simple farm kid from Kansas.
When Jennifer and I served on Young Farmers and Ranchers we often said, “The world is ruled by those who show up.” Over the years I have a better understanding of what that means and just how true it is. I truly wish that everyone would have the opportunity to come to Washington, D.C. and get involved with the governance of our great nation. It is important that everyday citizens get involved and make their issues and ideas known.
This is especially true for those of us in agriculture. We are less than 2 percent of the population, and I suspect that number is dropping each year. We also run businesses that are highly technical, are not very well understood and operate on razor thin margins. It is of the utmost importance that we make sure we have a good relationship with our elected officials, and we meet them on their own turf. That is why events like LEADs are so important and why it is so important that as many members as possible make regular trips to Washington D.C. and Topeka.
Farm Bureau has become one of the leading voices for agriculture because of our members making trips like this. Whether it is Day at the Statehouse in Topeka or LEADs, it is important for our legislators to see farmers and ranchers and not just KFB staff. It is critical we tell our stories to them about how legislation or regulations affect our operations. It never hurts to remind our elected officials they represent real people.
I also think it is good to come to Washington, D.C., and see the sights, understand a little bit of how government works and have a greater feel of just how to get things done. I know there are a lot of jokes to be made about those things, but I promise you it helps to see it in person. I have always said that the hardest part of any trip is when you can still see your mailbox in the rearview mirror. Getting away is tough and there are sacrifices but I hope each of you will make the time to get involved and travel to our capitals to take an active part in our governance and make your voices heard.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.