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"I think lobbying is important to tell your story, and that's really what you're doing – is trying to influence a government official to understand your perspective and where you are coming from. I think it's very important. I think that we [WIFE] were successful because we did all avenues. I said earlier about kitchen table lobbying. First of all we made the contacts and got to know people either through writing or through phone calls. Then we went to Washington or to Lincoln, then you introduced yourself and got to know the people before you actually needed them is, I think, an important part. And then they also need to be able to trust you, that what you are saying is correct. And so we always documented, if we used statistics of any sort, where those statistics were derived from. We weren't just pulling those out of the air. So I think those are, you know, some important things to remember is that – Anyone can lobby. And it is important if you have an issue that you really want to have accomplished that you have to make those contacts…
     "I think that's right but I've always felt that one person can make a difference. One person, because you can bring your idea to that senator or to that congressman. And then someone else might join you. And that's why we always felt also that it's good to cooperate with other groups and work together because we can accomplish so much more with more voices than just one. But one person can make a difference…
     "I think what they do is just build – They kind of build one farm bill on another. And I was involved in a number of, or the organization was involved in a number of the farm bills. And it wasn't unusual for them to say that this farm bill had to be passed this year, but there was always an extension going into another year. I remember back in the 80s was a "Pick" program where you took your land out of production because we supposedly had over-production. So you made a bid on your land. And so much land in the county was taken out of production, depending on the bid that you gave to the Farm Service Agency.
     "I think through the years, there's always been the complaint that there's too much money spent on farm programs. And really, the Food Stamp program, there are a lot of other consumer programs that are included in the farm program that people are not aware of.
     "Also we had a loan, an agricultural loan program where money was lent to farmers, and then farmers would pay that money back. But it never went into the same – We never received credit for paying that back. It would just go into the general fund. So it always appeared that the cost of farm programs was higher than it really was.
     "So I think through the years, there have been changes. We have become more environmental, I think, more conservation oriented, more food safety which is not all bad. There's just all of these groups competing and so you have to make a compromise. But again, I think we still need, you know, the program for the food protection for our country.
     [Question:] "Farmers are less and less a percentage of the population, any more. How do you make any political clout, or how do you gain any kind of political clout?"
     "It's getting more difficult. It's getting more difficult even on the local level, the state level because we have fewer and fewer people representing – they represent the rural areas but they may be doctors and lawyers now that are representing the rural areas, or attorneys and such. Again, I think that's where the groups have to work together, the farm associations and organizations have to work together because there again I think more things we can agree on."

Elaine Stuhr – Anyone Can Lobby

   

Excerpts from Elaine Stuhr’s Interview:

Beginning Farmers
Farm Strike Movement
The Bust of the 80s
Women & WIFE
Raising Kids for Export
Immigration in Rural America
Environmental Laws & Agriculture