Advocacy for RI Agriculture 101


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Ad’∙vo∙ca∙cy: the act of supporting a cause or proposal

At one time, farmers and farmland were top priorities for our society, but this is no longer so. Because of this, it is sometimes necessary for the agricultural community to advocate for itself, either as individuals or through organizations that represent it. Advocacy is at the heart of participatory democracy and in order to engage in it, you must speak with your elected representatives: you must advocate for yourself.

 

You may feel that there is no good reason to contact a politician. Many people say “they don’t listen to the little guy anyway,” or “they only do what the highly paid lobbyists tell them to do.” That attitude can be self-defeating.

Politicians know that not every citizen will call them with an opinion. From a politician’s point of view, every single person they hear from on any particular subject is actually a representation of a certain number of people who hold the same opinion. Mathematicians have come up with formulas that translate one constituent contact into actual numbers of voters with the same opinion. For instance, if you call a legislator with your opinion on an upcoming law, your opinion may actually be worth two hundred (200) votes to that legislator. If the legislator gets 10 calls with that same opinion, that means he or she now assumes that there are 2,000 people with the same opinion. This also means that there will probably be 2,000 like votes in the next election. The more contact from individuals they receive, the more important a particular issue will become to them.

Why should you care? Politicians are your representation in the world of making laws and rules that we all have to live by. They also appropriate the money that allows the government to help us all. For the farmer, this could mean cost share for government conservation programs. It may mean a law that allows a farmer to rent their farm for private functions. Or, it could be a new Estate Law that allows a farmer to pass their farm to their family or another farmer at no or reduced taxes.

Politicians in most cases are trying to do the right thing… and the right thing to them is what they hear about most often- not necessarily what they hear the loudest. Good politicians also know farming is important. You can help the cause by having an honest and civil dialogue with your politicians.

In the short PowerPoint to follow, you can learn how to let your politicians know how you feel in an effective way. Remember that there are at least 2,000 “farms” in Rhode Island and about 10,500 forest landowners with 10 acres or more. That is a real voice!



To download this power point, courtesy of the National Association of Conservation Districts, Click Here



The following is contact information for your current Federal Legislators as well as where to find contact information for your state representation. Remember that your municipal government also works for you. Let them know how you feel by calling, emailing, or showing up at municipal meetings.

 

Federal Legislators

Senator Jack Reed, 401-528-5200, Reed.senate.gov

Senator Whitehouse, 401-453-5294, Whitehouse.senate.gov

Congressman Cicilline, 401-729-5600, cicilline.house.gov

Congressman Jim Langevin (2ndDist), 401-732-9400, Langevin.house.gov

 

To find your state Legislators: 

First, find out what District you live in if you aren’t sure.  Go to https://sos.ri.gov/vic/, scroll to the bottom and enter your street address and zip code under “General Voter Information.”  Hit “Search”, and scroll to the bottom again for the “District Information” section. 

Once you know your district, find you Representative and your Senator here:

House of Representatives: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Email/RepEmailListDistrict.asp

Senate: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Email/SenEmailListDistrict.asp