Below are some items to think about before you get to the legislator’s office.
Schedule an appointment. It is always best to schedule an appointment in advance to ensure that the legislator is available to meet with you. If the legislator is unavailable, ask to meet with a staff member who handles the issue. It may be more difficult if you are trying to schedule a meeting with a member of the congressional delegation. The easiest thing to do in this situation is to visit your legislators, or staff, at the local office.
Be prepared to share your story. Share how the legislation will directly impact you, your family and your operation. Use personal examples. They are powerful.
Offer your expertise and knowledge on this issue or other related issues. Legislators are busy people and are seeking information before a decision is made. If you offer your knowledge in this area, or related areas, the legislator may use you as a future resource.
Leave your contact information. If you have a business card, farm fact sheet, phone number or email share it with the legislator or staff member before you leave. The legislator might wish to follow up with you or contact you for further information about the issue.
Be polite. The legislator may not agree with you on the issue but this is your opportunity to share your story.
Follow your visit with a thank you note or email.
SEND AN EMAIL OR LETTER
If you decide to send an email or letter to your legislator, keep these tips in mind.
Identify yourself as a constituent. Legislators receive multiple requests and emails each day but will give constituents priority. If you include your mailing address in the email then they know you are in their district.
Immediately identify the issue. Either in the subject line of the email or within the first paragraph of the letter. If there is a specific bill that you would like to address, include the bill number.
Keep your email/letter short and to the point. Include reasons why the issue/legislation will impact you, your family and your farm.
If there is an issue or bill that requires immediate response, an email will reach a legislator faster than a letter. Although letters are more personal, they take more time to reach a legislator, especially a member of Congress because of increased security at the US Capitol.
PLACE A PHONE CALL
A phone call will most likely be brief so it is important to have your talking points in place before you dial the number. Things to think about before you make the phone call include:
Identify yourself. Immediately identify yourself and that you are the legislator’s constituent.
Limit your call to one issue. Phone calls are brief, so include the bill number in your call.
Be brief. Lay out the reasons for, or against, the issue. Also, let your legislator know the action you would like them to take on the issue.
Be polite. The legislator might not agree with you on the issue but this is your opportunity to share your story.