It is easier to say what consensus is not, than what it is. Consensus is not a vote; rather, consensus is mutual agreement of League members arrived at through discussion. During discussion, everyone has an opportunity to express their viewpoints, and the issue is examined from all sides. Consensus questions, created by the study committee and approved by the Board, provide structure for the meeting. Members discuss the pros and cons until it becomes apparent that consensus has or has not been reached on each question. A committee will analyze the consensus responses, look for areas of member understanding and agreement and, using this information, will create a position statement.

Background materials: After the scope was adopted by the LWVUS Board, committee members researched and wrote about various issues included in the scope, compiled a list of resources, consolidated information, developed a glossary and a list of acronyms, and proposed the consensus questions to the Education Fund Committee. The materials, resources, and an automated consensus response form are all posted at http://www.lwv.org/member-resources/agriculture-update.

When the LWVUS Board of Directors approves changes to the Agriculture position created from Agriculture Update consensus responses, it immediately becomes the League’s position and is the basis for action on the issue. This type of member involvement in the consensus process tends to ensure member commitment to the resulting positions. In addition, members have the opportunity at each Convention to decide whether or not to re-adopt these positions or update them.