Land Use Communications Worksheet
Effective communication builds important leverage to advance your advocacy to protect and preserve Oregon's working lands. Whether you’re talking to a legislator or county commissioner, preparing testimony for a public hearing, or writing a letter-to-the-editor, you can use the communication tools described below to gain support for your position.
Decision-makers responsible for land use planning decisions affecting working lands depend on first-hand input from farmers, ranchers, and foresters — but most don’t have a direct connection to working lands or experience with land use planning. It is essential to succinctly convey information about your agricultural operation and how a strong land use planning program supports the working lands industry and all Oregonians.
Develop credibility and build rapport with the decision-maker by sharing information about your agricultural operation. Create your introduction today and it can be reused — with minor adjustments — in future advocacy:
● Introduce yourself and your agricultural operations (e.g. location, crops, size, farm practices, market etc.);
● Explain the connection between the location, climate, or soil conditions that support your agricultural operation; and
● Describe how your agricultural operation benefits from sound land use planning decisions. If applicable, provide a specific example of how unwise land use planning decisions or lack of enforcement of a land use decision have caused economic damages or challenges to your agricultural operation.
The Persuasive Four-Part Communication Plan
Getting a decision-maker to agree with your position on a specific subject requires thoughtful communications. Through your introduction, you established credibility on the subject of agriculture and land use planning and gained rapport with the decision-maker. It’s time to move onto advocacy. After the introduction, most successful communications campaigns can be broken down into four simple parts:
Part 1: Shared Value
Begin your statement with a widely held common value that relates to the issue at hand. Starting with shared values helps audiences “hear” our messages more effectively than if we began with dry facts or emotional rhetoric. For example: Oregon’s economy benefits from a strong agricultural sector.
(Or in a Grange setting maybe: Strong communities benefit the nation and all of us)
Part 2: Present the obstacle
Frame the obstacle as a threat to the shared value. This is a place to use stories and statistics that are likely to resonate with the target audience. But the rapid encroachment of urban development onto irreplaceable farmland threatens the future of agriculture in our state. In the past five years, our county lost 200 acres of EFU-zoned land to non-farm uses and non-resource rezones.
(In a Grange setting: The rise of social media and the Covid virus has made sustaining community much more difficult and also more important)
Part 3: Share the solution
Share a positive, overarching solution to the obstacle and assign responsibility. The county commission should prioritize the preservation of EFU-zoned land to ensure that Oregon’s economy continues to reap the benefits of a strong, viable agricultural sector.
(In the Grange setting: The Grange encourages community thru networking, common goals of personal improvement and social awareness)
Part 4: Take Action
This is usually where you provide your target audience (e.g. decision-maker or newspaper reader) with a concrete request. I urge you to oppose the application to rezone EFU-zoned land into small-acre, low density rural residential development. Four-parts combined: Oregon’s economy benefits from a strong agricultural sector. But the rapid encroachment of urban development onto irreplaceable farmland threatens the future of agriculture in our state. In the past five years, our county lost 200 acres of EFU-zoned land to non-farm uses and non-resource rezones. The preservation of EFU-zoned land will ensure that Oregon’s economy continues to reap the benefits of a strong, viable agricultural sector. I urge you to oppose the land use application to rezone EFU land into small-acre, low density rural residential development.
(Again in the Grange setting maybe the following: Would you like to assist in this important work? Grange membership is open to all persons of good will and always has been)
Other Communications Factors to Consider:
● Letters-to-the-editor typically have a word limit between 200-400 words. Review the requirements before you begin typing.
● Verbal testimony at county commission meetings or legislative hearings is often limited to two-five minutes. Two minutes of testimony approximately equals one page of 12-font, single-spaced text.
● You may be required to bring additional copies of your testimony for all committee or commission members.
● Profiles of legislators and county commissioners are available on their respective government website and may contain useful background information or common interests to use in your letter, testimony, or meeting.