Call Your Members of Congress

Making calls to your members of Congress is one of the most effective actions anyone can take to advocate for sustainable agriculture issues. Even better – it’s also one of the quickest!

Legislative staff at every Congressional office track the number of calls they receive on various topics, and just a few phone calls into an office over a short period of time can bring an issue to the attention of your legislator and have a big impact. Here are some tips to help you make an effective call:

  • Call congressional offices directly or through the Congressional switchboard. The switchboard can be reached at: 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you to your member’s office. If you do not know the names of your members of Congress or want the direct line to their office, you can look up your members online.
  • Ask to speak to the aide who handles agriculture issues. You generally won’t be able to directly speak to your Member on the phone, and in fact the best person to speak with is the member of their staff who focuses on agriculture issues. However, Congressional aides are very busy and may not be available. It’s 100% fine to leave a message expressing your views with whoever answers the phone!
  • Be succinct – keep your message to your Member short and focused.
  • Be specific about what it is you are asking the legislator to do (tie your message to a piece of legislation – e.g. put the bill number in the subject line of an email message).
  • Back up your ask with data or research summaries (if they are available), and/or illustrate why you care about the issue by including a short personal story or anecdote.
  • Let them know that you are a constituent – and, if applicable, a farmer. Legislators are most interested in hearing from their voters back home.

Here’s a sample call script – it really can be this brief and simple!

“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and let ‘em know if you’re a farmer or researcher!).  I would like to leave a message for the person who handles agriculture appropriations for [Senator/ Representative].  Can you take a message for me, please?  The message is: as you write your 2016 funding request letter, please ask for $30 million in funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Research from SARE has helped farmers be more economically and environmentally sustainable for nearly 30 years and deserves strong funding. [Include your personal story here about why sustainable ag research matters to you]. Thank you for your time.”