This summer, many constituents have let their congressmen “have it” by airing their feelings about health-care reform. Much of it has taken place in raucous town-hall meetings. 

I haven’t been to any town-halls, since my congressman seems to be ducking face-to-face meetings with constituents, but I did send two e-mails in June and a typed letter on Aug. 3. It was the first time I have written to a congressman.

Frankly, I am sick of the runaway spending that is going on in Washington. Sending the e-mails and letter at least gave me a chance to vent my frustrations.

On a personal note, it got me thinking:   Am I making it easy for you to send me letters in case you see something in the magazine (or industry in general) that you would like to comment on?

I get some phone calls, which I appreciate. Sometimes, the calls are a little heated, such as the woman who called last spring and suggested that farms skip their mortgage payments because it seemed like everyone else was getting bailed out… why shouldn’t farmers? When I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea, she got mad and said I had been disingenuous in my April 2009 editorial by saying I would try to be a conduit for ideas. (I guess I should have qualified it by saying “good” ideas.) Then, there was the man who suggested that farmers cut back on grain fed to cows as a way to reduce the milk supply without being overly dramatic about it (e.g. milk-dumping). He said this tactic was used in the 1980s, although I searched the Internet and couldn’t find any such references. (I really didn’t like the idea anyway.)

The last caller did get my attention, though, by saying that in order for such a grass-roots effort to take hold, it would require a person who can get the word out to a national audience. Traditionally, the dairy media has had that kind of reach. But, with the advent of Twitter and social-networking, we have seen some pretty amazing examples of one or two people sending out messages that have “gone viral” and reached tremendous numbers of people.

I would like to offer a few suggestions:

  • When you are trying to communicate a detailed plan, such as fixing the milk-pricing system, please put it in writing. It is often difficult to grasp all of the details over the phone.
  • E-mails and letters-to-the-editor are great, not only because they allow you to put it in writing, but because the person on the other end can absorb the message and respond in a more thoughtful manner than is the case over the phone.
  • My mailing address is: 10901 W. 84th Terr., Lenexa, Kan. 66214. My e-mail address is: tquaife@vancepublishing.com

It didn’t occur to me to call my congressman on the phone earlier this summer and “give him a piece of my mind.” Instead, I chose to put things in writing so I could organize my thoughts and keep my emotions to a minimum. It gave my congressman a chance to respond in what I have to concede was a very reasonable and thought-provoking manner.