Voting for candidates friendly to agriculture is essential for farmers and ranchers to continue to produce the bounty expected by our nation and even the world. It is vital for young agriculturalists to get involved in the political process.

“It’s easy as a young person involved in farming and ranching just to say 'let someone else do it' or 'my vote doesn't make a difference.'  I know we’re all busy. We might be the sole operator on the family ranch and are busy not only with day-to-day work but raising young families," said J.M. Peck, chair of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. "When it comes to voting, it's critical to make sure your voice is heard at the polls and make sure when you mark that ballot that it's a candidate who cares about the people growing his or her food.”

With fewer and fewer farmers in the nation, finding a candidate who makes a living from the land might be challenging, but check to see if that candidate is willing to hear your viewpoints. Peck, who ranches in Melrose, pointed out that young people will, hopefully, have a lifetime of agriculture ahead of them, so it’s crucial to ensure the policies set today will positively affect farmers and ranchers in the future. Remember, bad ag policies will also follow you into the future.

"Do your research and examine a candidate's voting record or public comments before you go to the polls or fill out that ballot," said Peck. "Although the Congressional races generally receive the most publicity, your local county commissioners or legislative races often affect how you do business. Remember, too, this Congress will be establishing the direction of the 2023 Farm Bill."

Peck urges young farmers and ranchers to run for office—any office. Guidance is available. The Montana Farm Bureau has the ACE program that develops leaders, and the REAL Montana program also develops leaders who understand the natural resource industries across our state.

Continuation of the political process is critical. Whether the candidate you voted for wins--or doesn’t--develop a relationship.

“That way, if there is an issue that affects farmers and ranchers, you have a channel to explain your concerns to that elected official, even if they aren’t invested in agriculture,” said Peck. “Remember to let them know, ‘I Farm. I Vote.”