Agricultural Policy for Rookies
If you’re a beginning farmer or rancher, or a new agricultural student interested in policy, it can be overwhelming to learn all the ins and outs of the industry. Farming is an entire industry full of political issues, lobbying, and being involved in your local, state and national associations to ensure your rights are protected.
With that comes a lot of information that can throw you through a loop if you don’t know what it all means. Being well-informed is crucial to your operation but can sometimes be daunting. When it comes to policies, there is a plethora of information out there - so where do you even begin to look? I have compiled a list of resources for beginners to educate themselves on all things policy related, in hopes that you’ll find it helpful and informative.
Animal Ag Alliance
The interactive Legislation Map they provide gives great information regarding current issues in your state, from antibiotics to the right to farm. It also informs you of bills that have passed or failed and what each piece of legislation stood for. Knowing what other states are going through is important so you can be prepared for those same regulations hitting where you live. This map is a great way to stay informed.
American Farm Bureau
Here, you’ll find Farm Bill resources, which include myths and facts, as well as each specific issue from specialty crops even to livestock. While you’re at it, check out their “Issues” tab and read about WOTUS, labor reform and trade.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Here’s for all you fellow beginning cattlemen, like me, who want to know what is going on in the world of beef! They essentially cover the same issues as American Farm Bureau, but more as it pertains to cattlemen and women.
Protect the Harvest
This website answers questions about what animal activists are up to. It’s a great place to start when you want to become familiar with the kinds of threats we face as an industry, and it leads back to knowing what other states are facing which could become issues we deal with in other states.
USDA -ERS Website
This is a comprehensive look into all different areas of policy, including past farm bills that have been enacted. It’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s handy to look into past bills knowing what the present market is like, and having that insight into the effect of each bill passed. It also contains current data on markets, which is handy for an agribusiness nerd like me!
I have my ag marketing instructor to thank for this. After assigning homework that involved us watching this, I’ve been hooked on it ever since. Although it’s based in Nebraska, the videos aren’t long and they are very informative of current issues and markets in all areas of agriculture. Trust me, you’ll thank me on this suggestion.
Another, and perhaps the best, way to educate yourself on policies is your involvement with your local and state associations. Getting involved helps to learn what other farmers and ranchers are dealing with in your area, as well as helps improve your operation and the industry as a whole. Even though you are but one operation in the entire industry, all of us combined, and all of us fighting for good representation in politics, predict how successful agriculture will be in the future.