Educating Legislators Is Important to Our Industry

by Lynne Osterman, MDBA Lobbyist

 

The 2012 Legislative Session starts Tuesday, January 24.    Let’s all hope talk of job creation, the state’s budget and the Vikings Stadium keep legislators busy this year — and that they leave our industry well enough alone! We cannot guarantee that’ll be the case, however, so we need to enter this legislative session as a committed industry, ready to respond if our farming practices do come under any type of scrutiny.  In fact, it’s always best to be proactive, so this is a reminder as to how you can personally play a role in educating YOUR legislators about the importance of the farmed cervidae industry in Minnesota. Lynne Osterman, lobbyist for the MDBA, is available to you if you have any questions and has provided for us the following reminder information —- the MDBA Board encourages you to take advantage of this advice to be in touch with your legislators. ‘Better to be proactive rather than having to do a lot of running around to create these relationships with people in St. Paul when/if the chips are down! Lynne can be reached via email at lynneosterman@gmail.com – or you can also contact any members of the Board if you have any questions.

Here’s what you need to do:
Write an email to each of the two legislators who represent you. There’s a sample below, but feel free to do messages 100% your own, too!

Just introduce yourself to them, include your address and your phone contact info. (that’s how they know you live within their voting district and that you’re a real person they can get in contact with in return).    Tell them how long you’ve been in operation and share that you are one of 598 farmed cervidae operations in the state.  Today, the total number of all farmed cervidae animals is 15,134 — of that total, share how many head you have on your farm.  If you have a rough idea of what your annual operating costs are for supplies, feed, etc. you purchase in your community, please include that.  Also, emphasize that farmed cervids are considered livestock, just as swine and poultry are.   You might like to point out this is an alternative agricultural pursuit that many current farmers initiated as family businesses and the markets for meat and breeding have continued to expand.  You can also include that the incidence of chronic wasting disease in farmed herds has been very low.   Since 2002, there have been 21,491 animals tested for CWD on 782 premises.  Of these animals, 7 tested positive.  When there’s a positive, the entire cervid herd on that premises is destroyed and the farm cannot have cervids on it for five years.  It is in the interest of every cervidae breeder to keep CWD out of the state, as the cost to individual farmers to maintain their operations is high and the loss of potential revenue following a de-population is devastating.  Please encourage the legislators to come visit you at your farms.  Tell them you recognize they are busy but let them know you are interested in helping them learn more about this important industry and ask them to contact you if they ever have any questions about cervidae farming or if any
legislation comes up that they would wonder about in terms of how it might influence you and your farming operation.

WHO REPRESENTS YOU IN THE LEGISLATURE?
Here’s how to determine who represents you.  Visit www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/ on the MN Legislature’s site –using your Zip Code it’ll match you up with contact info for one state representative and one state senator.   Take note of who these two state legislators are, including their email addresses and office phone numbers. (Do not contact the folks who serve out in Washington, DC in Congress  –  this is a state-level outreach exercise, not federal.  SAMPLE Content for Emails to Legislators Dear Rep./Sen. So-and-So, My name is _______ and I am a deer farmer in your legislative district.  I live (with my family?) at (address) and have been raising deer as livestock for ______ years.   I don’t know if  you’re familiar with raising deer — or elk — but this is an agricultural business with close to 600 operations throughout the state.  This industry is important to me and my family and many of the local businesses we work with in our community and I just want to make you personally aware of our work.

If you’d like to come visit my operation, I would love to talk with you personally about the farm and can answer any questions you may have. You might also be interested to visit our deer breeders association web site, www.mndba.com, where there is quite a bit of information about this farming industry.  You’ll find details about all the rules and regulations we must adhere to — we are actually the most highly-regulated livestock industry in the state. Thank you for your time.  Please contact me if you do have any questions during this legislative session! NAME Phone Number Email Address
NOTE: PLEASE EITHER CC OR BCC LYNNE OSTERMAN WHEN YOU SEND OUT EMAILS, and please also FORWARD TO HER ANY RESPONSES YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR LEGISLATORS!  LynneOsterman@gmail.com

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