Final passage in the Senate would bring to an end the agriculture community’s toughest legislative fight in almost two decades.
At least 325 companies and organizations, including Monsanto Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dean Foods Co., registered as lobbyists in 2013 to work on the Senate bill through the end of October -- the fifth-most of any legislation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Only bills on the federal budget, appropriations, immigration and defense generated more lobbying interest, according to the center, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations.
Agribusiness, an industry of crop and livestock producers, food manufacturers and dairy farmers among others, spent $111.5 million on lobbying in the same period, more than the defense industry and labor unions, according to the center.
Companies and individuals in agriculture made about $93 million in campaign donations during the 2012 presidential campaign and have given $20 million so far in 2014 congressional races.
The farm-policy legislation is among the few bipartisan achievements of this Congress, which this month cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill and overcame disputes on presidential nominees to confirm more than a dozen.
Opponents said that, after debate dating to budget negotiations in late 2011, the bill’s passage has come too quickly to examine the legislation that is more about political clout than sound policy.
“Many would like this whole farm bill issue to go away,” said Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts, a Democrat who voted against the bill, before the floor vote. Still, “the people who will be hurt by this bill won’t go away,” he said. “This bill will make hunger worse in America, not better.”
Club for Growth and Heritage Action, which back smaller government and lower taxes, both alerted lawmakers they would include the vote on scorecards used to evaluate congressional candidates, encouraging them to vote against the plan.
“The ‘farm’ bill means more expenses for taxpayers and higher costs for consumers,” Heritage Action said in its release yesterday designating the bill a “key vote.” “It means more unnecessary government dependence for wealthy farmers and food stamp recipients.”
The bill is H.R. 2642