The tweet read:  Focus on the policy, not the people. Rachel Bina, a, PAL graduate from North Dakota, doled out the advice at the National Joint Leadership Conference in chilly Phoenix and I was all ears.

I have played a role in the policy development process in Colorado Farm Bureau and have argued for or against everything from spanking as a punishment in schools to landowner vouchers for antelope hunters. Several years ago, a number of eastern Colorado counties brought forth policy regarding wind energy. Our county submitted wind policy written at Tom Brown’s kitchen table, the beauty of true grassroots policy. When it came time to defend the policy, it was opposed by several counties not affected by thousands of wind turbines (like my county) and not affected by billions of wind energy dollars (like my county) and hundreds of wind energy jobs (like my county). Some of them held signs proclaiming the silliness of the policy. I could barely stutter my name and county at the microphone, their signs held in the air behind me. I nearly forgot the policy because I was so angry with the people opposing it.

I thought to myself after the delegate session how heads would have surely rolled had I stood up during discussions about water rights or grazing permits and said the policy was silly. Thank goodness I never would do such a thing, especially knowing the importance to other producers in the state.

Long story short, if we in agriculture focus on the policy rather than the people, we will have better policy and legislation all around. If we could focus on HSUS’ proposals rather than Pacelle’s rhetoric and wool suit, we would be ahead of the game. The same applies at the Capitol.

With the gun rights debate at a full boil, I’ll try to keep Bina’s advice in the front of my mind especially when I walk past the protestor’s signs to visit with my representatives about the proposed policies alone.