As I was walking up the hill to the state capitol last week with more than 100 Farm Bureau members from across Iowa, we crossed paths with a caravan of vehicles blaring their horns and plastered with signs promoting their cause. As we waited for the vehicles to stop so we could cross the street, an airplane flew overhead towing a banner with a message aimed at state lawmakers.

The noisy, showy display was a sharp contrast from the thoughtful, measured demeanor that is a trademark of Farm Bureau members. While the activity outside the capitol seemed designed to capture the attention of TV cameras and other media, it’s hard to measure the actual impact on legislators. 

Inside the capitol, several of the Farm Bureau members wondered if lawmakers were even aware of the disturbances that were taking place outside the building. Standing in the capitol rotunda, the demonstrators could neither be seen nor heard. 

Meanwhile, Farm Bureau mem­­­­bers from all corners of the state, ranging in age from their 20s to 70 or beyond, engaged in face-to-face discussions with their local senators and representatives about key agricultural policies being debated during the 2024 session. 

It was the first visit to the statehouse for some members, while others have been making the annual trek for decades. All of them took time away from their farms to travel to Des Moines, demonstrating the strength of Farm Bureau’s grassroots approach to policy development and implementation. Their efforts might not end up on the evening news, but the message certainly gets across to lawmakers.