3/13/2017 2:16:00 PM Young members bring new policy ideas
Tina Hinchley Farmer & Columnist
I belong to many organizations and some are farm focused. As the years go by, I have witnessed a change in the types of farmers who are joining and participating in policy discussions. Many of the new farmers did not grow up on farms or even in rural communities. They are college educated, articulate in debating and passionate about their ideas. As they project their views to others in their communities, they are growing the organization with more new members. There are more newer members than the middle-aged or retired farmers. The senior members have stayed steady and strong through the ups and downs of the economic turbulence. Years ago, they ran the meetings and created the policies that related to their farming practices. Some of these practices are being challenged by new members. New ideas in a changing landscape comes with the recent rush of diversity in agriculture. All of these new and old farmers have their hands in the dirt. They all want better times for the shrinking number of the farms, which feed the world. Some embrace technology and are excited to see what new products are coming to bring more opportunities and environmental awareness than ever before. Others voice objection to these practices and are searching for different methods using novel ideas. All farmers drink the water on their farms. We are a product of our environment. It is our responsibility to ensure the water will be there and safe for the future. Conservation strips, nutrient management plans and proper storage of chemicals are in every farmer's best interest. Conservation compliance isn't to be ignored. It should be practiced to ensure everyone's safety. Within farm organizations, I believe all farmers have a place and a voice in the creation of policy that represents its members. As new policies are created, others fade away as the needs to update and anticipate the future of agriculture evolve. Policies are written so our legislature knows the direction of the organization's membership. It is the members' hope that the changing ideas can influence future legislation. Lobbying at the state level or even in Washington, D. C., will help create the effective changes desired by the organization, and in essence, the farmer's voice will be heard.