Big Ag’s Growing Influence

On Capitol Hill, the ag lobby is the 800-pound steer.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

American Farm Bureau Federation
One of Capitol Hill’s most vocal lobby groups, it is also one of the nation’s largest crop and livestock insurance companies. Its county-level meetings have been a prime forum for airing fears about the climate bill.
Lobby spending: $2,634,661
Lobbyists: 37
Campaign contributions: $26,000

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
The group that brought you “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” represents the likes of the American Hereford Association, Purina, Dow Chemical, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart.
Lobby spending: $198,257
Lobbyists: 15
Campaign contributions: $225,047

National Pork Producers Council
Members include billion-dollar corporations like Cargill, Bayer, and Pfizer. Top priorities this year include a demand for a $250 million swine subsidy.
Lobby spending: $863,137
Lobbyists: 26
Campaign contributions: $202,134

National Milk Producers Federation
Has some 40,000 members, from local co-ops to titans like Kraft Foods; vows to “ensure that agricultural enterprises are shielded from any adverse impacts” of climate legislation.
Lobby spending: $460,000
Lobbyists: 17
Campaign contributions: $88,000

National Corn Growers Association
Works hard to defend high-fructose corn syrup and ethanol subsidies, often in concert with ag behemoths like Archer Daniels Midland and John Deere (which by itself spent more than $1 million on lobbying this year).
Lobby spending: $340,000
Lobbyists: 13
Campaign contributions: $71,500

National Farmers Union
Represents some 250,000 mostly small farmers and ranchers; the only major ag group supporting Waxman-Markey, it flew members to DC in September to lobby for it.
Lobby spending: $450,000
Lobbyists: 3
Campaign contributions: $57,500

Campaign contributions are for ’07/’08 cycle, House and Senate campaigns only. Lobby spending is for first half of 2009. All figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend