When it comes to technology, there’s a group of consumers referred to as “early adopters.” This group is tuned into what’s happening with their favorite technology and they are willing to test it and invest in it before it hits the mainstream. For some, it’s about having the newest and best. For others, it’s about vetting the technology to help move it forward.

This idea of having influence early in a cycle came to mind during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. I took part in a conference, policy briefings and legislative visits as part of an agriculture advocacy group.

Throughout our 3 days in the nation’s capital and discussions over dozens of issues, one issue in particular was repeatedly discussed — the recent proposed changes to how the EPA defines “waters of the U.S.” as part of the Clean Water Act. This change may affect the definitions of such “waters” as farm ponds. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, I urge you to learn more about it because it could affect your ag and rural lifestyle customers. There’s a comment period right now regarding the proposed Clean Water Act changes. Here’s a link to more information, including how to submit comments.

During the week, I was able to visit with the offices of my state’s senators and representatives. By “office,” I mean young staffers. They were competent and I was pleased with the meetings, but it wasn’t a replacement for discussions with my elected officials. And, it definitely wasn’t the same as working with officials before legislation is drafted.

I’m not a policy wonk, but I do care about agriculture and its future. And, part of that future includes you as dealers. Without the equipment you sell and the knowledge you provide, your customers can’t make the most of their properties. I encourage you to share that knowledge with your local, county, state and federal officials.

They need to know what small agriculture is like in your area — and what policies can hinder its growth or even survival. Invite those officials to tour your dealership, show off your facilities and your team and demonstrate the latest in rural lifestyle equipment. Help them understand that the decisions they make about agriculture affect more than production agriculture.

And, offer to be a trusted source when they’re trying to understand an ag topic as well as topics related to small businesses. Ag policy affects your customers, whether they know it or not, which means it affects your dealership. As I heard several times this past week, “Politics shouldn’t be a spectator sport.”