The Ag Lobby

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Over at Grist, Tom Laskawy reacts to the recent changes in the Senate Agriculture Committee:

As suspected, agribusiness is indeed turning cartwheels over the news that Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln is now chairman of the Senate Ag Committee. The public policy director for the retrograde American Farm Bureau told The Hill, “We couldn’t have handpicked a chairman better than this.” The giant sucking sound you’re hearing is agricultural reform rushing down the drain.

The headline of The Hill’s piece tells you all you need to know:  “K Street welcomes Lincoln as the new head of Ag committee” — K Street being the center of the lobbying biz. If you read on, however, you’ll discover all sorts of lovely little Lincolnian tidbits. Did you know that in 2007 Lincoln tried to exempt agribusiness from toxic waste lawsuits? The fact that Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest chicken (and chickensh*t) producer, is based in Arkansas and is a major campaign contributor to her is, of course, a total coincidence.

I wouldn’t normally link to this, but I just got finished writing a piece for the magazine about the ag lobby and its malign effect on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, so this stuff is on my mind right now.  While I wouldn’t say the ag lobby is the most powerful lobby in the country — that title is probably reserved for the finance lobby, the target of my next piece — it’s definitely right up there.  And it’s equally powerful no matter which party is in charge, too.  The ag lobby owns ’em both.

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