A great interactive session held on Monday at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference should be a required course for every agricultural producer in the country.
Led by Cody Lyon with the American Farm Bureau and Keith Gray of Alabama Farmers Federation, several hundred peanut growers got a taste of what it is like to serve in Congress.
Split into groups, they were assigned a member of Congress to represent. They then had to consider several different bills – such as increasing educational funding for immigrants or restricting fishing in the Atlantic – and vote on them. Once they voted, they received or were docked points based on their constituency’s reaction to their vote. The final number of points determined whether or not they would be re-elected.
It was a great exercise that taught producers more than just hearing someone talk about the importance of having their voices heard in Congress. Bob Redding, Washington representative for the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, says it’s important for growers to understand how members of Congress decide how they are going to vote on issues.
“We in the peanut industry work in a vacuum, we’re focused on the success of one product,” Bob says. “That’s not the case with members of Congress. We’re one constituency and we have to take that into account. Bottom line is, we have to make a really good case on any of our issues.”
Listen to an interview with Bob here:
Bob Redding (4:30 min MP3)
Watch a YouTube video here to get an idea of how this informative, interactive session worked: