Over the past few months, Land O’Lakes member-owners have taken their experience and insights to State Capitols across the Midwest to advocate for issues impacting the agriculture industry and rural communities.
In January, member-owners attended several meetings with legislators at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Land O’Lakes, in partnership with the Kansas Ag Retailers Association, the Kansas Coop Council and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association convened this day of action to ensure producers and ag retailers had an outsized voice in the discussions occurring at the legislature. This served as an opportunity to update lawmakers on the state of broadband expansion, the efforts of the American Connection Project to close the digital divide, and the ongoing concerns of the agriculture community.
“It’s important to have a voice in the process,” said Stan Stark, CEO of Farmers Cooperative Company in Haviland, Kan., and Land O’Lakes board member. “Legislators need our perspective to understand our issues and that is why I show up.”
Following passage of federal infrastructure investments, Land O’Lakes is engaging with state broadband offices, state legislatures, and governors to advocate for robust implementation and coordination. The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition identified key implementation principles for elected leaders at the state and federal level. Read those principles here.
This February in Wisconsin, Land O’Lakes partnered with the Cooperative Network to execute a virtual Day at the Capitol. Member-owners attended the day-long event, featuring legislative leaders visiting with updates on broadband implementation, personal property tax and carbon issues. There was also a session on building a resilient supply chain, hosted by the Land O’Lakes team.
“It’s a good opportunity for members-owners to learn from each other and share with policymakers what we need,” said Evan Hillan of Dairy Management Inc. in Ladysmith, Wisc., and Land O’Lakes board member.
“Rural communities are important, and the agriculture industry feeds people around the world – it’s important our collective voice is represented in capitols across the country.”
Hillan followed up his state Capitol Day by going all the way to Madison, Wisc., to testify in support of a bill introduced at the virtual Capitol Day. Hillan spoke about his experience as an animal agriculture producer, and what he’s learned about carbon markets implemented in other states. Truterra has a number of implementation principles to recommend to state lawmakers as we see more jurisdictions valuing carbon credits.
In Iowa, Land O’Lakes hosted a legislative reception and breakfast at the Capitol in Des Moines, partnering with the Iowa Institute of Cooperatives. As part of an annual President’s Conference and Advocacy Day, Retail-owners and growers shared their experiences to ensure that legislators know that our success, and the success of our membership, depends on a future where rural communities are vital and thriving.
“These meetings are an important way that the agriculture community can show our communities how we serve,” said Neal Keppy, grower from Eldridge, Iowa. “We can share our challenges in maintaining a skilled agricultural workforce, accessing reliable broadband, and thriving as we attempt to produce products that feed the world.”
In March, Land O’Lakes again partnered with the Cooperative Network to host a virtual Capitol Day in Minnesota. Legislative leaders of the Agriculture and Transportation committees, as well as the State’s Commissioner of Agriculture visited members at this virtual event.
The work at the state level continues: Land O’Lakes members in California engaged with state legislatures and state government officials on May 17. And the Government Relations team is working hard to align on the Farm Bill priorities members will take to Members of Congress in 2023.
For members interested in joining these efforts, please reach out to the Land O'Lakes, Inc. Government Relations team.