Political Implications

The Political Influence of the Industrialized Agriculture Lobby In the United States

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Political Effects: Following the Money

As I alluded to before, the money spent by the Industrialized Agricultural Lobby has a definitive and absolute chance to affect political opinion simply because we live in a capitalist society, where to coin the old phase, "Money Talks." Yet, the Industrialized Agricultural Lobby is just one voice in a chorus of special interest groups, thus, the question of how clearly they are heard arises. The Industrialized Agricultural Lobby, while it does wield a significant amount of capital, spends ten of thousands of dollars less than other special interest groups, in fact, it is 25th on the list of money spent lobbying(http://www.opensecrets.org/pubs/lobby98/topind.html). However, it is important to note that each special interest group lobbies in their own area of interest, therefore when agricultural issues are the subject of debate on the hill it is quite probable that the Industrialized Agricultural Lobby has the loudest, best funded, voice. Thus, to see how the money spent by the Industrial Agricultural Lobby effects political opinion and decision-making directly we should look toward the arena where agricultural issues are most frequently debated: the House and Senate Agricultural Committees.

The Senate and House Agricultural Committees are central to the formation and maintenance of proposed legislation concerning agriculture in the US. Lobbied mainly by two groups, first the Industrialized Agriculture Lobby, pushing for greater liberalization of the agricultural industry and increased government subsidies. Second, the Environmental Lobby, which is pushing for increased regulation on industrialized agriculture for the protection of the US and the world environment. A stance that is founded via a multitude of links between environmental degradation and industrialized agriculture. Water pollution, being just one example of these links, where industrialized agriculture is responsible for 60% of the pollution in US rivers and streams (Ridgeway, St.Clair, 1998). The numbers for the Environmental Lobby are unavailable, yet it is a safe assumption, that with the huge scope of issues which the Environmental Movement is involved in, it would be impossible for the Greens to implement capital to the extent that the singularly focused Industrial Agricultural Lobby can. Therefore, the political opinion within the agricultural committees in congress should reflect, if we follow the money, the influences of the pro-industrialized agriculture, anti-green agenda. In the regions of the US where industrialized agriculture is in heavy use, i.e. the West, Midwest, and Southeast, the elected officials on the agricultural committees voted anti-green, quite pro-industrial agriculture. In the House agricultural committee the representatives from the Midwest voted on average for 71% of the bills that were pro-industrial agriculture, the representatives from the West voted on average for 67% of the pro-industrialized agriculture bills. The representatives from the Southeast were of the same inclination with senate committee on agriculture also turned out similar results with average votes for 74% of the pro-industrial agricultural bills. The senate committee on agriculture also demonstrated similar voting with an average of 100% for pro-industrialized agriculture bills from the West, 84% from the Southeast, and 49% from the Midwest. The last statistic of 49% from the Midwest seems to be out of place, but it is not. This statistic only further illuminates the money trail from the industrialized agricultural lobby to congress. Let us draw back our attention to the prior section of this web page where the party distribution of the lobbying and campaign contributions was highlighted. As stated before of the funds spent by the Industrial Agricultural Lobby 65% went to the Republican Party. When the voting average from the Midwest is examined further the money trail becomes even clearer. Of the senators from the Midwest it was the democrats who pushed the percentage down voting against 79% of the pro-industrialized agriculture bills. On the other hand, the Republicans voted for 97% of the pro-industrialized agriculture bills. When the other agricultural regions of the US are examined the same party differences are seen. The Southeast is another fine example of this effect with the democrats voting against 80% of the pro-industrialized agriculture bills and the republicans voting for 100% of them (http://www.lcv.org/scorecards/index.html). Thus, it is clear: the votes go in favor for those who pay.

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