Sherry Flack on the Importance of Advocacy: We’re the Experts – We Need to Share Our Point of View
My husband and I are the third generation farming on his family’s land in the southwest corner of Stephenson County. I handle the books for our operation and help my husband, Alan, on the farm. We grow soybeans and corn, operate a 50-head cow-calf herd and raise about 3,600 hogs throughout the year in partnership with our son, Tom, and his wife, Kelly.
Advocates who are experts in their field are critical regardless of the industry, and we as farmers are the experts of ours. If we don’t tell our story and share our point of view, then people with no firsthand experience will make decisions on our behalf. Personally, that really scares me. We need to have the courage to stand up and speak out.
It starts with a conversation
I want legislators and regulators to know that we work hard, and we’re using the most scientific, up-to-date information to do what’s right for our land and animals. The best way I can do that is to reach out to them and share my experience-backed opinions when an issue – whether good or bad – comes up that can impact our family farm.
That’s why starting a dialogue helps so much, especially with current issues such as Waters of the United States (WOTUS). It’s still in limbo, but the farmers who actively advocate against it have helped bring our perspectives to light.
For generations, my father, grandfather and their fathers have all worked to conserve our land and to produce a safe, quality product – not only for our own families and friends, but for our country and the world. We need to work cooperatively with our legislators to share who we are and how regulations impact our businesses.
Be proactive, share your voice
When you have a system like the Voice for Soy legislative action network, sharing your side of the story becomes so much easier. The action alerts provide information that’s written in an understandable manner. I read the letters and think, “Wow, that’s what I would say.”
The bottom line is that I’d rather be proactively having a conversation with lawmakers before rules and regulations are set in motion. At the very least, I’ve taken the time to stand up for my farm and family to say what I think.
That’s why I advocate.
Sherry Flack is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in social welfare and social work. Previously, she served 13 years on the Eastland School District board and advocated for public schools. She has also done advocacy work on health issues for the Freeport Health Network (FHN) while serving 13 years as a board member.