A series of listening meetings around Iowa begin today, sponsored by the Iowa Farmers Union and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Leigh Adcock with the Farmers Union Education Foundation says they’ll gather opinions about the 2007 Farm Bill that’s under construction now in Washington. They’ll record all the ideas, input and comments — things farmers think are working well and those they think could be improved, and then present a summary to policymakers and legislators.

The second goal of the meetings, which Adcock says is probably the more important one, is to give participants information and tools to continue the dialogue with their legislators once the listening session is over. They’ll be provided with a list of the lawmakers who represent them, and numbers and ways to communicate with them on issues. She stresses the process is nonpartisan: “We aren’t pushing any particular agenda, we’re just really interested in hearing what folks have to say.”

Adcock points out lawmakers need to hear from the constituents who they represent. The more information and opinions they get, the more informed their choices are going to be when they’re looking at bills in the legislature, or in Congress and looking at federal legislation. Today’s (Wednesday) listening session is from 1 to 3-30 at the public library in Dyersville, and for the schedule of the next five see the Farmers Union website at I-A-F-U-dot-ORG.