Make sure your voice is heard! Now, more than ever, your Members of Congress need to hear from you. While you have the USA Rice staff advocating regularly on your behalf, the message is amplified when you make a personal contact.
Finding Your Member of Congress
Developing Your Message
Make it Personal
  • Members of Congress and their staffs need to know your story and how an issue affects you. Tell them about your farm, mill or business and let them know that you play a crucial role in supporting the economy in the district/state. It’s even better if you are a constituent of that Member of Congress—if so, be sure to tell them.
Have a Specific Ask
  • Make sure that you have a specific ask for the meeting. While there may be many issues affecting you and/or your operation, keep your request specific to the meeting. Members of Congress and their staffs have numerous meetings throughout the day, so be sure that you’re one of the meetings that is easily remembered by having a reasonable and sound ask.
Know Your Facts
  • While it is always important to tell your story and keep your ask specific, it’s just as important to know your facts. Use statistics that show how good or bad a piece of legislation affects you. 
  • If the Member of Congress or staff person asks you a question you are unsure of the answer, politely let him or her know that you are unsure, but will follow-up with an answer within a week.
Leave Some Time/Be Available for Questions and/or Follow-ups
  • More than likely, your communication with a Member of Congress or his/her staff will result in questions or the need to follow-up with you on your interaction. Be willing to take the time to answer questions and always answer follow-up emails. If meeting in person, leave around five minutes at the end of the meeting as an opportunity for questions.
Effectively Communicating with Your Elected Official
Office Visits
  • Your meeting will last approximately 15-30 minutes depending on the office, so a clear and succinct message will result in best meeting possible. Remember to leave those five or so minutes at the end of the meeting for questions.
  • Please realize you will probably be meeting with a congressional staffer. Members of Congress have little control over their schedules with meetings and votes occurring throughout the day—one of the many reasons they have staff to take meetings when they are unavailable.
  • Set up a visit by either calling the Member of Congress’ office or emailing using the “contact” feature on the Member’s website. To find this information, use the ‘Finding Your Member of Congress’ tool above. Meetings should be scheduled no less than two-four weeks prior to your planned visit to Washington, D.C.
Phone Calls
  • Phone calls will allow you to speak with a congressional staffer on an issue quickly.
  • It is always okay to ask to speak with a specific staff person or the staff person who handles a particular issue area, but do realize that even if that person is unavailable, the staffer you’re speaking with will also communicate your message with the Member of Congress.
  • Always ask for a staffer’s name, including the spelling, so you can follow-up with an email to thank the staffer for his/her time. Email templates are:
    • Senate: [first]_[last]@[Senator’s last name]
    • House: [first].[last]
  • If you know the name of the staff person you are communicating with, use the following template: 
    • Senate: [first]_[last]@[Senator’s last name]
    • House: [first].[last]
  • If you are unsure of the email address, use the “contact” feature on the Member of Congress’ website.
Always Follow-Up
Thank you messages go a long way. Be sure to always send a thank you email to the staffer with whom you were communicating. Including a quick recap of the meeting, specifically your ask on an issue or piece of legislation, and attaching any handouts you may have provided during the meeting are keys to developing a great relationship with the staffer.