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What’s at stake in 2021; PLUS: How to reach your elected officials

TAGS: Agenda
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Kick off the New Year with a commitment to make your voice heard. The time is now. Here’s how.

For more than a decade, I’ve asked BEEF readers to get loud and speak out about issues that impact our way of life.

Whether it was a regulatory threat on land and livestock owners, an attack on our dinner plate that would take meat off the menu, or activist actions that would threaten our ability to raise food in this country, I have asked you over and over again to speak up and let your voice be heard.

In 2021, this fighting spirit is needed more than ever.

In case you missed it: How to prepare for an uncertain 2021

This week, a Senate runoff in Georgia will decide the makeup of Congress for the next several years. In what looks to be a tight race, Republican Sen. David Perdue is running for reelection against Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler also faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in this special election. The Senate currently stands at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. The stakes couldn’t be higher for both political parties, as well as the American people, with this election on Jan. 5.

Later this week, Congress will meet to certify the Electoral College votes. With a dozen Senators and more than 100 Representatives vowing to contest the results based on citations of widespread fraud, Jan. 6 promises to be a “wild” day in U.S. history. (Editor's note: There have been no substantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election).

That’s according to President Donald Trump, who urged his supports to come to a "wild rally" in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 — the day when Congress is scheduled to formally finalize the presidential election results. Notably, Trump will also be in Georgia on Jan. 4 where a rally will be held before the Georgia special election.

Last week, the USDA and Health and Human Services released the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which again failed to reflect accurate nutritional science that promotes animal fats and proteins in the diet. Insisting that meat be “lean” and dairy be “non-fat” or “low-fat” takes away the brain-enriching, body-fueling benefits that beef and dairy can provide both to healthy Americans and those with chronic illnesses.

Meanwhile, when perusing the 5,000+ pages of the appropriations bill, it’s important to note that more than two dozen directives and legislative actions from the Humane Society of the United States were snuck into the spending package.

Also, in the works, we see immediate threats coming from the World Economic Forum’s “Build Back Better” platform, which is embraced by the Biden Administration. "The Great Reset" aims to reinvent capitalism, our diets, property ownership and more in the name of climate change and human health.

Check out these articles, “Is lab-grown meat the next frontier in ethical eating?” and “Why we all need to go on the ‘planetary health diet’ to save the world” to see what I mean.

And the list of upcoming challenges and threats goes on. So what can we do about it?

In case you missed it: Meanwhile, other issues are also important to beef producers

I have received countless emails in recent months from producers who are feeling very defeated, upset, worried, anxious and fearful for what is to come for this country and our futures in the agricultural industry.

Understandably — I’ve had these emotions myself, and it’s hard not to feel like a voiceless, unrepresented serf in the current political climate. Are our voices even welcome in the public square? Do the folks in rural America who provide food, fiber and energy even matter anymore?

The answer is an unequivocal YES, but only if we keep up the fight and continue to put the pressure on our elected officials who serve us. What’s the best way to go about it?

While this may seem like basic information, today, I want to offer a a brief refresher course on how to effectively reach your elected officials with a few tips to walk everyone through it.

For starters, here is a link for the directory of all U.S. Senators. Click here for the U.S. House of Representatives Directory.

If sending an email or writing a letter to a member of Congress, your message should include a prompt on which issue you would like to discuss and how it impacts you as a concerned citizen or business owner. And it should conclude with a request to know their thoughts on the issue to push your elected officials to return communications with you on this issue.

A great tool I use to help me assess issues is National Write Your Congressman. The website highlights upcoming votes to be considered by Congress, evaluates both sides of the issue, tracks the voting record of every member of Congress and walks you through how you can best communicate your thoughts to Congress. Check out the “Top 10 Action Alerts” on issues that will be discussed in Congress in the upcoming days.

In addition to writing Congress, you may also phone the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request. For the U.S. House of Representatives, call 202-225-3121.

In order to have a productive phone call, ask to speak to the aide who handles the issues that you are calling about. When you’re on the line, let them know your are a constituent and state the city and state you are from.

Be sure to know your facts and have basic information you want to share in the call written down to reference while you’re on the line. If you have any expertise or experience in the issue, be sure to make note of that, as well. Keep your call brief and timely, especially if a vote or call-to-action is imminent. For example, do you know what your Senators plan to do on Jan. 6? Give them a call to find out.

Finally, consider calling the local office, rather than the Washington, D.C. office. These staff members have boots on the ground at home and might have insights on how an issue will directly impact your community in a way that the D.C. staffers simply do not.

And while you’re at it, make sure your state legislators, mayor and other elected officials who represent you hear from you regularly. It’s critical we remain engaged, laser focused and alert on every level.

In future blogs, we’ll address the importance of cooperating and collaborating with like-minded producers and community members online and in person.

With social media blocking, censoring and shadow-banning political groups, including agricultural pages, that they don’t agree with, it is becoming increasingly imperative to have other forms of communication, backup plans for connecting and keeping in touch and a list of contacts to mobilize, coordinate and rally together with.

It’s a brand new year with endless possibilities and endless challenges ahead. If you’re feeling defeated, I urge you not to give up now. The fight has just begun, and our future in agriculture relies on every single person getting engaged, getting loud, speaking out and pushing back against the regulations, ballot initiatives, ideologies and societal sentiments that seek to strip you off the land, take beef off the dinner table and remove your freedom to choose a life that best suits your family.

Let’s get to work.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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