Michael Dolch, ISA Director of Public Affairs

(Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Policy Update: Driven to Deliver

October 12, 2020

One year ago, I wrote a column titled, Push the Fight. The realistic yet optimistic and up-tempo message talked about the uncertain 2019 growing season giving way to a difficult fall harvest, leaving folks with more questions than answers. We bobbed and weaved through a laundry list of critical issues requiring congressional action before year’s end. Fast forward to today and the year 2020, which has provided just as many, if not more, challenges at the farm gate – most of which are out of your control. With harvest underway, no shortage of issues facing American agriculture, and an important presidential election less than 30 days away, there’s reason to proceed with cautious optimism and a “back-to-the-basics” approach. 

With the economic hardships lingering and farmers still feeling the effects of trade imbalances and severe weather, it’s increasingly important to raise awareness among policymakers about how public policies impact farmers and the agriculture industry. 

Over the last year, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) hasn’t backed down from any battle in the policy arena. In fact, ISA’s board of directors and Advocate members are motivated and have stepped up all across the state to protect the critical biodiesel market, recover lost biodiesel demand, and secure a second round of Market Facilitation Program payments and two rounds of direct aid through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. 

To continue making a positive difference and increase ISA’s effectiveness on behalf of soybean farmers, we need champion advocates like you. We need farmers around the state to stand up for policies in their district and communities. Whether you are already involved or just getting started, you can raise your voice to influence policies impacting agriculture and the soybean business. 

Since most legislators make it a high priority to keep in touch with their constituents, here are several “back-to-the-basics” recommendations to put a face on an issue and share your story: 

  • Become familiar with important policy issues as an Advocate member and sign up to receive ISA issues updates and action alerts; 
  • Find your elected officials at each level of government by visiting a helpful resources like www.legis. iowa.gov/legislators/find; 
  • Engage your legislators through a simple phone call, email, social media post or handwritten letter – remember to briefly introduce yourself, make “the ask” and make it personal; 
  • Visit your legislators face-to-face if possible, either in their office, over coffee or at an in-district meeting or event; 
  • Open your farm to a virtual or in-person tour, and invite a policymaker and/or their staff to visit; and of course, 
  • Urge friends, ISA farmer members and others in your community to get involved and take action. 

As a constituent, you carry a lot of power with your elected officials. Let’s be honest, they work on your behalf. If it’s your first time meeting with an elected official or you’re unsure where to start, don’t worry, you don’t have to go it alone. ISA is here to help. Reach out to us for ideas and opportunities to join the effort in a unified and coordinated way. Just like raising crops or livestock are year-round activities, continuous, year-round advocacy makes all the difference here in Iowa and in Washington, D.C. 

Until next time, be good, be safe, and have a bountiful harvest!

This story was originally published in the October 2020 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.