In Farm Bureau, we often talk about how active and engaged our members are in policy advocacy. We’re usually referring to Farm Bureau members’ engagement on specific legislation or issues—their calls, emails and in-person visits (pre-pandemic, anyway) to ensure that those who are elected to serve us are aware of what’s important to agriculture. Just as important is engagement to make sure the right people get into office in the first place.

Farmers and ranchers tend to vote at a high rate. They know that who’s in office can have a huge impact on their ability to farm. From regulations and taxes to access to labor and foreign markets, policies supported by those whom we elect to Congress, the White House and other offices directly affect our farms and families—and our ability to feed our nation.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the leading architects of our republic, is often quoted as Election Day nears. His words serve as a reminder that every American has a responsibility to participate in the election process and vote for legislators and a government that represent the people as our founding fathers envisioned their young nation.

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate,” Jefferson said. 

Those are strong words with a clear message: Participate in the voting process or someone else will decide who will govern. It’s a reminder – and a warning – to all Americans about the need to vote on Election Day.

The importance of voting is also found in the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data showing that while 97 percent of America’s landmass is considered rural, it is home to slightly less than 20 percent of our nation’s population.

Rural America is where Farm Bureau members live and work. And while rural Americans have a strong history of participating in the election process, it is important for them to keep the momentum moving forward and to vote in every election.

A strong showing from rural America on Election Day will echo in the halls of Congress as well as in every state’s capitol. The impact of a strong rural vote will also be felt in local, city and county governments. Having legislators who understand the needs and concerns of rural America at every level of government will ensure our voice is heard.

As we consider these weighty issues, it’s important to take a minute to remind the youth of rural America to vote. Studies show that when young people take the right to vote seriously and participate in the election process, they often become lifelong voters.

Isn’t that what Thomas Jefferson had in mind for our country all along?