A few weeks ago, I returned from a business trip to Washington D.C. with the Ohio Farm Bureau – AgriPOWER Class IV. Our agenda was packed full of meetings, presentations, tours and food. At the top of each daily agenda, in bold letters read Business Attire.
A week earlier…I struggled with the words business attire. Did that mean the traditional black slacks, blazer and neutral top, a dress with completer piece, my office wear, or my actual farm business attire…fat boy boots, Carhart hoodie, and town n country hat?
Needless to say, it didn’t mean the latter. Why is it so important for farmers to have an alter-ego, an official business attire…I found this out in Washington D.C.
First off, everyone in D.C. wears black ~ the new black is not pink! To be taken seriously, you must wear black and look polished. Whether or not I subscribe to this line of thinking – it is the way it is. As I had an opportunity to tell Congresswoman Fudge that “Farming is Sexy” (note that I didn’t necesairly say farmers are sexy, but as a career option; yes it is sexy), it’s a good thing, my appearance was professional and not hick.
Second off, no one sleeps in D.C. ~ they were arriving at the restaurants and bars at 10:30 pm – and I was ready for bed. Fact of the matter is, when you work in a high paced professional world, you are ALWAYS working. We farmers share that similarity, but we don’t need to stay dressed up all day long. Anyway, we were told by more than one lobbyist that the majority of compromises happen over a cocktail! Cocktails that range in price from $10-$24 (this ain’t my local honky tonk for sure)! When you hold an expensive cocktail in your hand, you better look like your outfit cost more than the cocktail!
Thirdly, if we want change, we need to change ~our clothes that is! I was so proud of my fellow Agri-POWER classmates, especially the men; suit, tie, and polished shoes. On a normal day, they would be sporting jeans, Carhart, steel toed boots, and maybe even covered in manure. However, change agents are double agents. By changing into official business attire the politicians, decision makers, and lobbyist, can see that we mean business. It would have been more comfortable in my jeans, boots, and hat. However, I am convinced that when they saw a group of “farmers” dressed like professionals, they knew we were professionals; educated, passionate, and concerned about the future of our businesses.