Written by Benjamin Putnam and Jorin Ouwinga
In the heart of Tallahassee, Florida, the Florida Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Group embarked on a two-day journey, leaving an indelible mark on the 2024 Farm Bureau Day at the Florida State Capitol. This annual event proved to be more than just a symbolic gathering; it was an opportunity for the young agricultural leaders to engage with the legislative process, enhance their communication skills, and advocate for the issues vital to their operations and industries.
The group’s first day in Tallahassee commenced at the Florida Farm Bureau Legislative office, where the group gathered to glean insights from seasoned experts. Amanda Bevis, the principal of Red Hills Strategies and distinguished speaker on effective communications, set the tone for the day by imparting valuable strategies on persuasively conveying our message. As young leaders in the agriculture sector, the importance of effective communication cannot be overstated, and Bevis provided the group with the tools to articulate their concerns with impact.
The educational journey continued with Andrew Walmsley, the Director of Legislative Affairs for Florida Farm Bureau. Walmsley shared his wealth of knowledge on navigating the legislative landscape. Understanding the intricacies of policymaking is crucial for anyone aiming to influence change and Walmsley’s guidance equipped our group with a deeper understanding of the legislative process.
A highlight of the day was the session on contract lobbying led by Alan Suskey, a professional with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. Contract lobbying plays a pivotal role in advocating for agricultural interests, and Suskey’s expertise shed light on the strategies employed in the realm of lobbying. The young leaders absorbed insights on building relationships, crafting persuasive arguments and strategically navigating the legislative maze to champion their causes.
The second day unfolded with anticipation as the group attended the Champion of Agriculture Breakfast, a momentous occasion that brought together agricultural enthusiasts and state legislators. The breakfast served as a platform for the leaders to engage with policymakers and gain a firsthand understanding of the legislative landscape impacting Florida’s vibrant agricultural community.