Schedule a Meeting
You can schedule a visit with your member of Congress in their D.C. or district office. Congressional recesses are the best time to schedule an appointment in the local office, because the congressional member returns to their district during that period. You can call the Capitol switchboard and ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s office by name. Once transferred, ask to speak with that member’s scheduler. Fifteen minutes is a standard amount of time for a meeting with a Member (if the meeting is with legislative staff it could be longer).
Prepare for the Meeting
Know your member. You can find their biographical information, committee and subcommittee assignments, and past voting record by visiting www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.
Identify the key issues that you want to discuss with your member and the particular requests that you are making of them. If you are visiting your member with a group of people, make sure that everyone is consistent with key messages and that each member of the group highlights a different policy issue. In addition to using the talking points provided by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and other groups, be sure to be prepared to speak from your experience. For instance, if you are a farmer that has been enrolled in a farm bill program, discuss the benefits of the program and how it can be improved.
Bring a notebook and pen.
At the Meeting
Present your views precisely, politely, and persuasively. Begin by telling your member that you are a constituent and what it is you’re asking them to do. Then follow up by giving them the reasons why (if you have any studies or reports to bolster your argument, bring copies that you can leave with them).
If you do not know the answer to a question, assure your member that you will find the information and send it to them as soon as possible.
Take notes so that you will remember what was said and what follow-up steps are necessary.
Leave copies of information about your organization and the policy issues you have discussed with your member or their staff.
Send Follow-up Letter or Email
Send a thank you letter to the member or their legislative staff. In your letter you can reiterate your central messages or clarify anything that was left out during your visit.