“This is the most important election ever.”
No doubt you’ve heard that declaration made over the recent months. As the 2018 midterm election nears, folks on all sides of the political spectrum are trying to energize supporters and get supporters out the vote. But I’ve also done my fair share of eye rolling when I hear that statement. Shouldn’t we treat every election as the most important one ever?
Because in reality each election matters, especially for agriculture.
Think about the issues percolating right now: trade, the farm bill, immigration, taxes, regulations, and health insurance. All of them touch on farming in some way, even if indirectly. And they aren’t one-and-done issues. So each election matters. From federal elections all the way down to local races, agriculture needs to be tuned in and focused.
That’s why I want to issue a challenge to you: this Election Day, cast your ballot for farmer-friendly candidates.
If you support modern agriculture, I want you to take these last few days before the election and find out where each candidate on your ballot stands on key farm issues. From the top of the ballot down to the bottom of it. Evaluate all of them on the policy that matters the most to us.
Michigan is in the midst of a gubernatorial election. Agriculture is the second largest industry in the state. Yet Gretchen Whitmer, who is currently leading in the polls, didn’t bother to engage farmers during her campaign. Michigan Farm Bureau asked, begged, and pleaded with her to engage the organization, participate in its candidate-evaluation committee, and discuss issues. She refused. Actually, she wouldn’t even respond.
It isn’t about party either. Let’s not excuse her behavior because MFB is some partisan organization that would never endorse the Democratic candidate anyway. MFB endorsed Sen. Debbie Stabenow in her re-election campaign. The organization has worked with Stabenow on important legislation, like the farm bill. So MFB is hardly some partisan bastion that only sought to waste Whitmer’s time.
Can you imagine? Whitmer wants to be governor of Michigan. But she’s completely ignoring an organization representing the second-largest industry in the state. That’s scary.
In the 24-hour news cycle, where the issues of the day become the memories of yesterday, agriculture can so easily be overlooked. Capital Hill can seem so far removed from our dinner plates, but the former absolutely influences and impacts the latter. That’s why I’m challenging you to make your decisions on Tuesday based on each candidate’s respective views on agriculture.
If you’re not sure how to begin the challenge, start with your state Farm Bureau organization. Many have candidate-committees where they collect the relevant policy positions. You may not ultimately vote for the candidate recommended by the committee, but at least you will have the information available.
Otherwise, consider just calling the candidate and asking. It might seem too bold. But I’ve worked on campaigns, and most candidates are more than happy to talk with voters. After all, if they want to represent you, they should probably be willing to talk with you. If you’re too scared, start with their website and see if that highlights any important issues.
Do your homework this weekend and then cast an informed ballot on Tuesday. U.S. agriculture is counting on you.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.