12 answers

What is the best course of action through college (majors and internships) for someone interested in becoming a lobbyist for agriculture?

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I am interested in becoming a lobbyist, specifically for agriculture. I am currently a business: marketing major. I was wondering if this is a good track to remain on or if I need to go into something along the lines of Political Science. I am aware that I will also have to go back for my masters. I also need to know what types of internships I need to get into. Thank you in advance! #agriculture #lobbyist

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12 answers

Angela’s Answer

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Hi Madison,

I am very happy to see that your want to become a lobbyist for agriculture. It is big business right now, and you should be very successful when you become a lobbyist.

The best course of action, would be to take courses in agriculture, or find a school with an agriculture major. My degree is in Foods and Nutrition, but you will get more in depth information and understand the agriculture industry from the bottom up. Also, when you are ready for an internship, look at agribusiness companies such as John Deere, Cargill, Caterpillar, and other food industry companies or associations that are based in areas such as grain, beef, corn, sugar, etc. The plant-based industry is booming right now, so if you can get an internship with one of these companies, that would be great. I am not sure of the future for this, but right now would be a good time to understand that industry from the round up. (e.g., sourcing of plants and ingredients to make burgers).

These can give you valuable experience in learning the industry. Having a business degree is helpful, but be sure to add basic law courses as an elective, because understanding the legal language is important , especially when you begin lobbying lawmakers. Many of them are lawyers.

Learn to understand the agriculture business from consumers point of view. All agriculture affects consumers in some fashion, and you will be successful when you can understand and know that business affects the consumer, and will make you more relatable when you begin lobbying.

I hope this information is useful to you. Good Luck in your future endeavors!

Angela recommends the following next steps:

  • Register for courses in agriculture
  • Volunteer if you can at a 4H if you live near an area for that
  • Subscribe to free magazines for the agriculture industry
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Sterling’s Answer

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Hello Madison,

It enlightens me to know that there are students who look forward to becoming a lobbyist before graduation. The best advice i could give someone with your aspirations would be to take a Policy Analysis Methods class, or something of that nature, and also some classes dealing with the agriculture field as well as a Public Policies and an Ethics class. The knowledge that you learn from those four types of classes should help you prepare for being efficient in political measures dealing with lobbying for agriculture. Also become extremely knowledgeable about agriculture within your state First, because laws and regulations vary by the city and state but knowing A LOT about what is going on around your community is a great start that requires zero class time...Public Affairs and Public Relations are a few majors within political science that could put you into some classes that are specifically about reading, writing, or analyzing a policy.

Best of Luck,

S.Bailey

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Aimee’s Answer

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Two things make a successful lobbyist: expertise on an issue and connections to policy makers.

Look for opportunities to intern and learn about ag policy. There are lots of resources because the Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in Congress. The House and Senate passed their versions and a conference committee from both chambers will meet after Labor Day in the hope of passing a bill by the end of September. Lots of ag groups are publishing information on hot-button issues on the Farm Bill.

Look at the ag committees at the federal and state level and see if any of your local elected officials are on these committees. If so, reach out to their offices and see if they have internship opportunities. Also, see if your state legislature offers summer employment or internships.
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Missy’s Answer

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you can stay on your course for business, but be sure to take some government and political science courses. You should start volunteering for political campaigns, Democrat or Republican parties, or at your state Legislature.

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Rose’s Answer

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Hi! Technically, you don't need any degree to lobby. If I were you, I wouldn't change my major, but maybe add a minor in communications or political science. I recently worked on a campaign for Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and my advice to you would be to learn the political process within your state, make as many connections as you can, visit/talk with legislators and cabinet members during their off season (not during session or committee weeks), and really study up on agricultural policy, as well as statistics, within the state you plan to lobby in. Hope I helped!

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Joseph’s Answer

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Definitely recommend joint an agriculture based group or fraternity for more networking opportunities.
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Paula’s Answer

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Hi, Madison. You don't actually need a specific field to be a lobbyist. I've been lobbying for almost 15 years and I have degree in business. I've represented banking, utilities, insurance, credit unions, etc. You simply need to connect with some of the local elected officials and industries like the Farm Bureau.


I'm always looking for interns and willing to train.


Paula

Paula recommends the following next steps:

  • Please contact me at psardinas@nwcua.org if you are interested in an internship in Washington State.
  • If you are in Washington, reach out to Legislators in Eastern, WA. Most are willing to train.
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John’s Answer

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Many lobbyists have law degrees or degrees on government.


You should also have working knowledge of the needs and issues of the field you plan to represent.



Finally, you must be self assured and confident to present these issues to lawmakers

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Hayes’s Answer

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You can maintain your focus on business, but also look into any agribusiness specific coursework. So many agriculture related businesses offer internships, so apply for as many as you can. Also look into internships with government departments of agriculture and extensive offices. That will set you on solid course.

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Ivan’s Answer

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQnORhx3gUM Origins of ring around the Rosie?


I would say environmental sciences.

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Kimberly’s Answer

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It's exciting to see that you have an interest in policy. There is not any real formula for becoming a lobbyist. Now becoming a good lobbyist is a different story. I've found that my undergraduate degree in Journalism has been helpful as I do a lot of writing and reading. My Juris Doctorate allows me to look at things analytically. But I truly the key is studying a topic you enjoy, familiarizing yourself with the needs and policy positions of your clients; and fostering authentic relationships with policymakers. I submit that the key to good lobbying is all about excellent communications and messaging, as engagement tools to educate an audience. I exist on the premise that all stakeholders have a vested STAKE in any policy or advocacy initiative. STAKE is an acronym, which to me means:

Supporting
Transparent
Advocacy
and Key
Education

Stakeholders are better suited to make sound policy, or business decisions when they understand the big picture. Thus, I always work to communicate thoughtful, strategic, messages that not only inform but also educate my audience, i.e., elected and appointed officials so that policy decisions are always well understood, appreciated, valued, thoughtfully implemented, and thereby universally accepted. My educational advocacy way of thinking has been the key to me getting a seat at the policy table over and over again.

Good Luck to you!

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

  • Pick your college courses based upon your passion.
  • Take elective courses that make you well rounded.
  • Get involved in programs like the YMCA Youth Assembly. (Nearly 40 years ago I was involved in Campfire Youth Legislature and Girls State n South Louisiana.)
  • Be open to a nontraditional role in addition to a lobbyist, such as a press officer, legislative analyst, policy analyst, a biofuels executive.
  • Never be without pen and paper, journal and make sure that you always have a Plan B.
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Keenan’s Answer

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Well, thank goodness for multiple opinion angles! Here's my .02 as I too am working toward the sweet role of lobbyist myself and have built out a track record. First, when you look for jobs basically none of them will advertise for the role of 'lobbyist'. Might I suggest the following pieces of information if you are to conclude a decision with all the others + myself combined.

Education: Having a rock solid comprehension of what you are doing is always a plus. Agriculture is that 'thing' that isn't exactly able to be automated or outsourced anytime soon and I do firmly believe you are in good hands with that.

That said, let's bolster your comprehension a bit... People are right in that you absolutely need a bit of a few things under your belt. Not as a major, but to have a FIRM understanding of governance and it's moving parts structurally. Let's take a look:

  • Political Science: Look for coursework that goes over organizational structure of governance as you will want to know how the 'sludge' flows through the system. In order to know how, you'll need to understand the plumbing. Remember 'Bill' from School House Rock?
  • Business Law: Ok, this one's more of a preference here... So you are not a lawyer, but a lobbyist's job is to schmooze and sway policy. To do this, you kind of need to have a fundamental understanding of how to read rules/ regulations/ laws and have BASELINE writing comprehension.
  • Public Speaking: Not just for over-educated TED talkers! Here you want to refine the 'elevator pitch' and gain comfort speaking in front of others. Seriously... Take a course in this...
  • Negotiation Strategy: This is a good place to not only get an useful skill... but work on body language. Remember, you want them to listen and ADOPT what your saying... Negotiate!
  • Grants Writing: As an agriculture major... you will no doubt do this some time. However, it's an useful Segway into 2 things: Writing grants (always in need) and understanding how to refine and write government jargon.
  • Strategize: Learned this the last round I was looking for work. Figure out WHERE you want to be and WHY you want to be there. When you refine what you'll be doing and where... you can focus easier.

Now that we have education out of the way (Masters=Yes, Political Science=Not very useful)... you can then look for policy internships or research opportunities via local or federal. Look for things like 'policy analyst' or 'public relations' <-- tho be methodical with that one. Anything that is projecting outward the business or organization to the public.

Look for organizations around your 'causes' (for me, I was a firefighter for 12 years and my first logical choice was to see the international union's webpage and public affairs section) and start looking around for opportunities to 'help' - you never know when volunteering or interning turns into a job.

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