Over 80 family farmers and rural advocates gathered in Madison Jan. 15 for Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Farm & Rural Lobby Day.
Participants advocated for policy priorities set by the grassroots membership at the family farm organization’s state convention. Among issues they discussed with their representatives were preserving farmland, protecting drinking water, and ensuring fair maps through nonpartisan redistricting.
“This is our day in Madison as regular citizen lobbyists,” says WFU Executive Director Julie Bomar. “It’s a powerful feeling to be an engaged citizen in solidarity with others.”
“The chance to speak one-on-one with our representatives and put a face to the issues is empowering and why I come back year after year,” said beef farmer Rachel Bouressa of New London. “I enjoy it more and more each year as I develop a relationship with my representatives.” Bouressa said WFU’s support for clean water and farmland preservation spoke strongly to her, noting, “I live in a community where our wells are very high in nitrates, so I was glad to come voice support for the power of cover crops, grazing, and farmer-led efforts to address clean water.”
This was April Prusia’s third time attending the Farm & Rural Lobby Day. For the Blanchardville farmer, WFU’s stance on the need for nonpartisan redistricting resonated. “It feels good to be with my people, my farmer family, and advocate for what we believe in,” Prusia said. “When we bring our voices together, it’s stronger. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“It was a little intimidating to be in the state Capitol and speaking with the individuals who have so much sway over the daily lives of farmers,” said first-time attendee and Dane County Farmers Union member Ryan Hellenbrand. “The issues we covered today, like clean water and farmland preservation, are extremely important for farmers to be able to maintain their livelihoods, and non-partisan redistricting is important for preserving the ability to come to consensus, a process which is critical to a vibrant and thriving democracy.”
Hellenbrand looks forward to more Farm & Rural Lobby Days in the future, noting, “It is incredibly important to engage with our elected officials at all levels, and the WFU Farm and Rural Lobby day provides a great communal atmosphere for us to come together and voice our concerns.”
WFU members will have the opportunity to lobby again this fall, when hundreds of farmers from throughout the country will gather in Washington, D.C. for the National Farmers Union Fly-In in September. Scholarships are available for first-time attendees. Members will also gather to set their grassroots policy Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the 89th annual WFU State Convention in Rothschild. For more information, contact the WFU State Office at 715-723-5561 or visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com.
Josh Scramlin tagged along with WFU at this annual event; to hear his report click the “play” button below: