Growing Influence

Lobbying the Farm Bill

The Farm Bill touches everything from crops to consumers and the massive piece of legislation spends nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. But how was it created?

With billions at stake, hundreds of companies and outside groups lobbied on issues related to the 2014 Farm Bill and fought for pieces of the landmark legislation.

It’s not just farmers and ranchers vying for their stake. Leaders in trade, finance, energy and transportation joined a long list of big business interests that are interested in the Farm Bill.

With vicious fights over everything from the leveling of funding for the food stamp program to farm subsidies to conservation measures, the drafting of the Farm Bill was fraught with roadblocks at every step. And a months-long investigation by Harvest Public Media and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found the nation’s food and fuel policy was besieged by an army of lobbyists representing interests of all kinds.

Crop Insurance Programs Subject Of Intense Farm Bill Lobbying

Jul 17, 2014
Mike Crawford stands at his farm near Danville, Ill. He says crop insurance is an important risk-management tool for farmers.
Darell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

After two years of debate, the U.S. Congress passed a Farm Bill this year that replaced direct subsidies to farmers with an ever increasing multi-billion dollar federal crop insurance program.

During that time, at least 80 groups spent more than $50 million in lobbying efforts that included ensuring their interests in the often criticized program were well-represented.

Hundreds of companies and outside groups lobbied the 2014 Farm Bill and related issues during the drafting process.
Bigstock

Setting the course for almost a trillion dollars of government spending, the 2014 Farm Bill attracted hundreds of companies eager to find their slice of the pie.

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green) watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014.
Courtesy David Kosling / U.S. Department of Agriculture

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.