Amplifying our Rural Voices

 On Aug. 17, over 100 farmers and advocates converged at Wisconsin Farmers Union Kamp Kenwood for the 2018 WFU Summer Conference. The morning kicked off with a County Presidents meeting, President’s Address from WFU President Darin Von Ruden, a Dairy Together campaign update from Government Relations Associate Bobbi Wilson, and an update from National Farmers Union Vice-President Patty Edelburg on Governor Scott Walker’s Dairy Task Force 2.0.


After these updates participants rolled up their sleeves and dove into a workshop as part of the WFU Rural Voices Project, which aims to train and mobilize Farmers Union members to be strategic messengers around core WFU values and policy issues. 

With a goal of focusing efforts to strategically amplify rural voices, the project has identified the following set of guiding frames for WFU members to build messages around: 

• Building economic prosperity that supports family farmers and rural communities through fair prices paid to farmers, public education, access to affordable health care, and rural broadband. 

• Caring for the land and water, protecting water quality and quantity and engaging farmers as key change makers in this work.

• Restoring democracy through campaign finance reform, fair elections, and support for local control.


The Rural Voices project was able to bring in Mike Brunlieb and Emily Ritger from 4+8, a media company from Milwaukee, as well as marketing professional Phil Chard of Out of My Mind and Allie Tempest from The Progressive Media Project to help with the workshop. All of these guests helped facilitate breakout workshops, with topics including making short videos for social media platforms like Facebook, writing Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor, and radio scripts/talking points for engaging people face-to-face.


The project is now moving on to the next action phase and we want to invite you to take part! As we discussed up at the Summer Conference, we are building a catalog of messages in the forms listed above. The plan is to activate and amplify our priority rural issues into conversations around the November election.


Host a Rural Voices Training!


Would you host a Rural Voices Strategic Messaging training at your local Farmers Union chapter meeting? Or perhaps you’d like to gather some friends and neighbors to work on some messaging on issues that matter in your community? 


WFU Director of Special Projects Sarah Lloyd and Communications Associate Tommy Enright are ready to help set up meetings and gatherings as well as assist with invitations to WFU members, neighbors, and friends. Staff is willing to help you set up and facilitate the meeting, and provide you with any materials or support that you need. We want people to have productive gatherings, where they can build their messaging skills and have some fun.


We are looking to set up at least 10 gatherings between mid-September and the end of the first week of October, so we can gather all the messages and help get them out to newspapers, post them on Facebook and other social media, and make a plan for engaging with community members through face-to-face conversations. 


Please help us shine a light on the issues effecting rural Wisconsin. Contact Sarah or Tommy to set up Rural Voices Strategic Messaging workshop at your chapter meeting, house party, or local gathering!  


Sarah Lloyd, 608-844-3758,

Tommy Enright, 715-563-2169,

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