Make a difference: Get to know your legislators
By Darren Turley, TAD Executive Director
How connected are you to your elected officials or political leaders? Today we have 386 dairies in Texas. This is a truly small group to produce 1.4 billion gallons of milk each year. When you consider that milk production is confined to only a few regions in Texas, it’s understandable that few Texans have knowledge of today’s dairy industry.
Likewise, only a few of our state legislators have dairy production in the districts they represent. In the Texas Senate, about 90 percent of dairy farmers live in only four of the 31 Senate districts. In the Texas House, most dairy production is in nine of the 150 House districts.
With such a large industry consolidated into small geographic regions and only a few legislators understanding your issues, it’s crucial for every Texas dairy farmer to take the time to establish a relationship with your legislators. It will be even more important when Texas redistricts following the 2020 census and rural Texas loses even more representation as our state continues to urbanize.
I know you have plenty of work to do on your dairy farm, but I encourage you to take the time to leave the farm and go meet your state representative or senator or your congressman when they are in their district. Your farm is an economic driver in the community, and that is a value to others. The officials who represent you will understand that and appreciate your initiative to reach out to them.
The future of our industry depends on dairy having a voice at both the state and federal levels, which requires you to build a relationship with your elected officials. That relationship could include a political campaign donation, volunteering on a campaign, inviting them to tour your farm, or attending a local town hall or other meeting to hear what they have to say or to share your input on issues important to your business, such as the Farm Bill.
I truly believe that the future of both our industry and individual dairy farmers will be greatly advanced through personal interactions between farmers and those elected to represent them. The Texas Association of Dairymen works hard to educate legislators on the impact the dairy industry has in the state, but the message resonates so much more when it comes from dairy farmers who live and work in their districts. TAD would be happy to help you if you’d like to attend an event or invite a legislator to visit your farm.
Take a few minutes from your farm to protect your industry’s and your farm’s future.