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Slicing into food industry's $40 million lobbying efforts

Food Safety News reports that more than half of the 60 food businesses asked by U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) to release details about their policies on antibiotics in meat and poultry do not employ Washington D.C. lobbyists.

The web-based newspaper, citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics, notes that in 2011, “agribusiness” employed 1,081 federal lobbyists who were working for 443 clients at a cost of $123.6 million.  But less than half of the total — about $40 million — can be directly attributed to the food industry, including dairy, livestock, poultry and eggs and all food processing.

So Food Safety News (which, by the way, is sponsored by Marler Clark , a law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness) pulled the lobbyist reports filed in January 2012 for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Here’s a summary of the Top 10, including some of the organizations’ top issues. (Click here for the full list with names of lobbyists and, and a look at those just below the Top 10 (such as Wal-Mart).

1.         Tyson Foods Inc. - $464,837.24

Eliminating corn ethanol tax credit; ethanol policies; immigration reform; foreign beef markets; food safety issues; GIPSA; and labeling.

2.         McDonald's Corporation - $430,000

Patient Protection and Affordable Pay Act of 2010 implementation; menu labeling; Food Safety Modernization Act; Federal Trade Commission regulations on food marketing limitations, and other proposals related to nutrition; E-Verify; restaurant depreciation; international tax reform; comprehensive corporate and individual tax reform proposals; Internet Corporation for assigned names and numbers plan to expand domain names; commercialization of highway rest areas; and food safety proposals (no specific legislation).

3.         Cargill Inc. -  $360,000

Dodd-Frank implantation as impacting commodity futures; ag competition; GIPSA; Farm Bill; bio-based products; biotechnology; the debt limit; general energy policy; biofuels; EPA regulations; cross-state air pollution rules; food safety; corn sugar policies; sodium; school lunch program; waterway issues; foreign trade.

4.         Smithfield Foods - $265,000

Opposing the ban on packer ownership of livestock, marketing of livestock and poultry; work on tax issues, trade policies; Farm Bill; biofuels and commodities pricing; ethanol policy; immigration; E-Verify; and free trade agreements.

5.         Hormel Foods Corporation - $123,076

Processing, labeling, and safety of food products; FDA and USDA food safety; USDA/FDA Fortification Policy; International Food Assistance Programs; implementation of Mandatory Price Reporting; GIPSA; biofuels policy; and animal care.

6.         Starbucks - $120,000

Treatment of foreign income; health care; menu labeling; sodium reduction; foreign trade non-tariff barriers; and Dodd-Frank reform.

7.         The Kroger Co. - $90,000

Multi-employer pension laws; online sales tax collection; dairy policy and the Farm Bill; menu labeling; and SNAP and WIC funding.

8.         Safeway - $90,000

Energy; health care; implementation of food safety legislation; front-of-package labeling; menu labeling; and FDA funding issues.

9.         Wegmans Foods - $90,000

Legislative and regulatory services related to estate and gift tax reform.

10.       Kraft Foods Global Inc.  - $50,000

Highway reauthorization act; dairy policy reforms in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill; implementation of Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008; and Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.