State and federal regulations may seem like a lengthy, jumbled mess of words on paper, but these are real programs and policies that affect real people. Farms you drive by on the edge of town may rely on these programs to set aside forested wetlands on their fields or plant cover crops to reduce erosion and runoff. Finding and talking with conservation-minded producers in your backyard is one of the best strategies to build a strong, informed network on agriculture policy issues.
On-the-ground knowledge can be tough to come by in policy discussions, making it all the more valuable when it comes time to tweak federal and state programs. Hosting a Farm Bill forum in your hometown is a perfect way to meet with people affected by conservation programs and requirements and determine what is working for producers – and opportunities for improvement.