FIND TIME TO SPEAK TO YOUR (OLD AND NEW) CONGRESSMAN ABOUT FTA's
Published: Fri. Aug 19th, 2011
The time is now to speak with members of Congress while they’re home on recess. You probably have many issues about which you’d like to grab the ear of Congress, and your window of opportunity has never been bigger. With the Congressional districts likely shifting, candidates are more eager than ever to find out what’s going on in their districts. Here is some information to consider about how to set an appointment, and important information regarding the three pending Free Trade Agreements that you might like to share.
Meeting directly with Members of Congress is one of the most effective ways to inform them how important the pending Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama are for rural America, consumers and the agriculture industry. Opponents of free trade agreements will be working hard this summer to kill support for the agreements. But your message, told in person, will make sure Congress knows the truth about the benefits of FTAs.
Below you’ll find links to resources you need to effectively tell your story and encourage Congress to pass all three pending FTAs when they return to Washington in September.
- A one-page document highlighting the benefits of the FTAs to corn farmers. The document also summarizes the economic importance of U.S. corn exports at home and in the world market.
- An open letter to the President and Members of Congress signed by NCGA and over 100 other agricultural organizations in support of immediate action on the pending FTAs.
- Example letters to the editor for placement in your local newspapers.
Also, there are documents specific to the Korea and Colombia FTAs. Each demonstrates the importance of maintaining strong export markets in those countries and consequences of losing market share to our largest competitors.
To schedule a meeting with your Member of Congress you will first need to talk to their scheduler, typically located in Washington, DC. You can find your member’s contact information online at www.senate.gov, www.house.gov or by calling the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to connect you to their office.
Be aware that many schedulers have a policy requiring that all meeting requests be submitted by fax or email, so be prepared to send the following information: your name, hometown, and title; description of the issue(s) you wish to discuss; other meeting attendees (along with their names, hometowns, and titles). You can then expect the scheduler to follow up with you via phone or email.
Be prepared to offer the scheduler your available dates and times. The greater your flexibility, the greater the odds are that you will be able to meet with the member. If the member is not available to meet with you, schedule a meeting with their legislative aide responsible for agriculture or trade issues.
Members of Congress are now in their districts for summer recess. Meet with them at one of their field offices during the recess. Additionally, many D.C. staff travel to the district to meet with constituents on a personal basis. Work with the scheduler and appropriate legislative aide to set up an appointment.
If you have difficulty scheduling time with your representative, you may also ask the scheduler if the member will be holding any public events, town hall meetings or similar listening sessions in the District that you might be able to attend.
Remember, your story and the truths about the benefits of FTAs are the most effective tools you have to make sure all three FTAs are passed.