When people ask CHS Government Affairs staff what it’s like to work as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., they’re always curious about how the political landscape has changed in recent years. Sarah Gallo, director, CHS Government Affairs, is happy to share anecdotes, but she’d rather discuss how the conversation about agriculture has evolved. Students, farmers and the ag industry will carry that message to Capitol Hill on National Ag Day, to be celebrated March 20 in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
“In meetings with policy makers, the viewpoints of producers are considered alongside those of both traditional and non-traditional allies and opponents,” Gallo said. “And while the diversity of voices should be applauded, it also serves as a reminder that being present in policy and regulatory conversations is critical.”
Gallo said the 100 FFA and AFA (Agriculture Future of America) students visiting legislators on National Ag Day sends a powerful message. She will meet with the students to share tips on how to succinctly deliver talking points to time-starved members of the Senate, the House of Representatives, their staff and aides.
“Agriculture is an exciting and innovative sector in our country. Students participating in Congressional meetings during National Ag Day activities can provide important perspectives as lawmakers craft legislation and regulations that will shape the farming industry for decades to come,” Gallo said. CHS has sponsored National Ag Day events for the past 25 years.
Gallo joined CHS in 2013, and said the fast pace and work is invigorating. “There is a certain thrill about walking the halls of Congress and participating in the democratic process. I am proud to work for CHS and have opportunities to interact with producers, particularly when the conversations are centered on navigating the complex, and often confusing, intersection of policy and politics. I strongly believe that this close connection to the people for whom I advocate has made me a more effective lobbyist.”
Gallo shares her commitment to agriculture in a blog, saying National Ag Day is a great way for all Americans to recognize and celebrate the value of American farmers and the agricultural industry. But, she said, it doesn’t have to end there. “Being an advocate for agriculture at home, in your neighborhood and in your community is what shifts the minds of lawmakers and transforms the landscape so that future generations can thrive in rural America.”
CHS also sponsors the National Ag Day essay contest, awarding $1,000 scholarships to two students submitting the winning written or video essays. Read the winning essay by Rio Bonham, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, and watch the winning video essay by Zoey McCormick, Carlisle, Indiana, here.