While agricultural organizations and agencies are doing their best to keep Wisconsin producers best interests at the forefront of state lawmakers, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said its important for farmers to be their own best advocate.
Vos received the Dairy Business Association Legislative Champion Award for his efforts to keep agriculture issues front and center at the state capitol.
The Assembly Speaker told hundreds of farmers and dairy business professionals attending DBA's Dairy Strong 2016: Partners in Progress at Monona Terrace Convention Center that most lawmakers' experience in the dairy industry is limited to driving by farms or eating dairy products.
'They don't understand the hard work and what it takes to make that farm successful,' Vos said. 'So I challenge you to invite your local legislators to come out to your farm and take the time to understand what your needs are and so they can understand the issues that they are going to be addressing.'
When regulations or bills come before him, Vos says he takes the time to travel to businesses to learn more firsthand about the issues and those who are impacted.
'Don't go their office, get them to come out and see your farm, ' Vos said. 'They can learn more and understand better what's all involved. It can make a big difference.'
Vos — a small business owner — applauded advocacy groups such as the DBA or NFIB.
'You have to belong to organizations like those to make sure that when you're back employing people or providing for your family or running the farm, good people are representing your interests to make sure that something government does doesn't have unintended consequences for you,' Vos said. 'They are smart, effective and work very hard and bug the crap out of me. They do exactly what they're supposed to do and that is to be good, forceful and strong advocates that know what has to happen to keep Wisconsin the dairy state.'
In his travels across the state Vos said two things come to mind when speaking with people about Wisconsin: the Green Bay Packers and cheese.
'This is what our state means to a lot of people and wouldn't be a travesty if the state of Wisconsin would not do everything that is possibly could to make sure we have a strong ag industry — particularly dairy — to ensure that kids 20 years from now have the same two priorities in mind: a winning Packer team and a thriving, growing agriculture industry focusing on Wisconsin premier products,' Vos said.