This guide is intended as a resource for local League study committees, to help presenters and facilitators knowledgeably answer questions that may arise during discussion, in a framework focused on reaching consensus. There is more detailed information included than you will want to present.
There are more questions about agriculture than we can address in the limited time available for consensus. The Agriculture Update Committee has focused the study materials on the issues that fall within the scope of the study as defined in the charge from the LWVUS Board.
A prime responsibility of the facilitator and the study committee will be to keep the discussion focused on the consensus questions and avoid distracting asides, however fascinating they may be.
Because agriculture is a large and complicated subject with complex federal agency interactions and overlapping state authority your presentation should be carefully planned. It should be noted that the study materials were carefully developed through literature research, with limited direct input from farmers or farm organizations. Leagues are encouraged to hold workshops in which farmers from their region can discuss their perspective on the issues identified for consensus.
The goal of the consensus meeting(s) is to come to agreement on your League’s answers to the consensus questions. The Discussion Guide to Consensus Questions section below has been compiled to help focus your discussion. It is presented in a format parallel to the consensus questions for convenience of reference. These comments and questions will enable you to “jump start” a discussion that is lagging, veered off topic or failed to start. This is not a script that must be followed, but ideas and aids to help you cover the material in a limited amount of time.
We suggest you either do your consensus meeting in one long meeting (perhaps a morning session, a break for lunch and discussion, then an afternoon session) or two shorter meetings. It is important to do background and consensus on each part at the same session so all those coming to consensus have access to the discussion during the background presentation.
For large Leagues with multiple units, the study materials and consensus questions might be divided among the units, assuming the membership of the units is fairly homogeneous. The consensus responses could then be merged at the local League level.
Trying to put all of the background and content in one meeting and consensus in another is tempting but can lead to several problems:
- Some members will attend one meeting and not the other.
- Those who attend the first meeting and not the second will receive good information but will not be able to participate in the consensus.
- Those who attend only the second meeting will not have the depth of background to follow the discussion; that can lead to repetition and frustrate those who have attended both.
Given the breadth of information and complexity of questions, it is important that you pace yourselves to have time to complete all questions. We suggest that you include in your consensus report as much as possible, leaving unanswered the response for topics that you were not able to get to. A partial consensus report is better than no report at all.
Do not use the computer form to record your session. Use the WORD or PDF form that has been provided on the website. The online form should be completed only after your board has approved the consensus.