Daren Coppock, NAWG Chief Executive Officer
Every summer my family takes a few weeks to travel to our home state of Oregon for an extended visit. It’s a fun time of visiting cousins and parents, wading in the frigid sea waters off the north Pacific Coast, visiting the old haunts and unplugging for a few days from the rat race inside the Capital Beltway.
It’s also an opportunity to spend some time on the farm helping out with harvest preparations or other farm work and to expose my kids to the experiences I had growing up on the farm. For my son James, it took on an additional dimension this year: his grandparents had agreed to help fund a school trip for him in exchange for a few days of work on the farm. So my 13-year-old with teenager sleeping habits got out of bed and was ready at seven in the morning for several days of work in 100-degree heat.
Not very many people in the Washington, D.C., area have those kinds of personal experiences working on a farm – including the vast majority of those who are making recommendations, casting votes and drafting regulations that impact your business. Agricultural organizations try to communicate the realities on the farm through advocacy work and outreach efforts like America’s Heartland or The Hand That Feeds U.S., but there is no substitute for personal experience. By far, the best way to deliver that message is to have producers themselves tell their stories as part of industry organization activities.
The active involvement of producers in your industry organizations is crucial if the voice of wheat growers is to be heard. When wheat growers go into a Congressional office to talk about the impact of a particular bill on their farm operations, they’re the experts and have instant and solid credibility. No one can challenge their analysis of the impacts to their farm businesses of whether or not direct payments are provided, the importance of funding disease resistance research, the impact of environmental regulations or any of the other myriad issues NAWG works on behalf of its members.
The work that the state and national wheat organizations do – as well as those of other commodity and general farm organizations – relies on the authenticity that can come only from the active involvement of farmers and ranchers, which is why the continued involvement of growers in farm organizations like NAWG is critical. NAWG and our affiliated state wheat associations rely on the active engagement of producers to form the policy positions we advocate, to provide our leadership and to provide the resources with which we operate.
So when you’re asked to take a leadership role in your county or state, or to make a trip to Washington, D.C., or to your state capitol; when you’re asked to help support the WheatPAC or the NAWG Foundation; or when you receive your dues renewal or a request for help from your state association, don’t just leave it up to your neighbors to provide that leadership, input and support. Jump in and join them in our mission of Advancing Wheat through Innovation and Advocacy.
– Coppock is based in Washington, D.C.