Ag Policy Blog

Listen to the Money Talk

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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"Tailored suits, chauffeured cars. Fine hotels and big cigars ... Come on, come on, listen to the Money talk." -- Money Talks.

Yeah, I was a head banger. And for some reason, AC/DC's "Money Talks" pops in my head as I peruse through a favorite campaign finance website, opensecrets.org.

"You hustle, you deal, you steal from us all."



People, companies and groups tied to agribusiness have given at least $93.4 million in political contributions to candidates and political action funds this election cycle.

Republicans are the big breadwinners from agriculture, receiving at least $49.9 million (73%) compared to $18.3 million (26%) to Democrats. According to OpenSecrets, the GOP has been the dominant recipient of campaign funds from agriculture since the 1994 election cycle. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

Despite the skew toward Republicans, OpenSecrets cites the single-largest candidate recipient from people tied to agribusinesses is Hillary Clinton with $1.8 million. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had received $1.29 million and Donald Trump has received $1.145 million. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

Far and away the largest political donor in this campaign cycle tied to agriculture has been Arkansas-based poultry company Mountaire Farms and its owner and chairman, Ronald Cameron. Mountaire and Cameron have given $15.2 million in this political cycle, which ranks Mountaire Farms as the 19th largest corporate donor in the country. Mountaire's campaign donations have gone mainly to conservative political action committees and funds, which account for $13.9 million from the company. Mountaire has given another $196,805 directly to Republican congressional candidates and GOP nominee Donald Trump.

The bulk of Cameron's donations went to two failed presidential bids. Cameron was the single-largest donor to the Conservative Solutions PAC with a $5 million donation last February. That PAC was set up mainly to support Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential bid. Cameron also was the largest donor to the Pursuing America's Greatness PAC with a $3 million donation, approximately 60% of all donations. That PAC was set up to support Republican Mike Huckabee.

Cameron also gave $2 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

Beyond Cameron and Mountaire, the next major ag donor is American Crystal Sugar, which takes a balanced approach to campaign money. American Crystal has donated $2.26 million this campaign cycle, of which 51% has gone to Democrats and 49% has gone to Republicans. No other major ag industry donor comes close to that equilibrium. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

On the sugar cane side, Florida Crystals Corp has been active this campaign season, giving money largely to PACs from both parties. Florida Crystals gave $400,000 to the Democratic convention host committee, but also gave $350,000 to the Rubio Conservative Solutions PAC. Florida Crystals gave $100,000 to the GOP Senate Majority PAC in September. Later in the month, Florida Crystals gave $100,000 to the Democratic House Majority PAC. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

OpenSecrets.Org lists various industries that often include companies and PACs that overlap and include redundant listings. Overall, though, the industry links provide some breakdowns showing where funds are going.

Food Processing companies and affiliated PACS have given just over $3.26 million to candidates, of which $2.5 million (76%) has gone to Republicans and just under $800,000 has gone to Democrats (24%). https://www.opensecrets.org/…

The dairy industry, through a variety of PACs and individual businesses, has donated $1.4 million this election cycle with $1 million going to Republicans and $410,000 going to Democrats. California Dairies Inc., Land O' Lakes and Dairy Farmers of America are the biggest players listed. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association PAC has donated $1.1 million to congressional candidates with just over $1 million going to Republicans and just under $100,000 going to Democrats. More than 90% of the NCBA PAC donations have gone to House members. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

The Farm Credit Council PAC has donated $1.24 million to candidates and their affiliated PACs. Of those, $818,230 has gone to Republicans (70%) and $345,500 has gone to Democrats (30%). Interestingly, Marco Rubio is the largest single recipient from the FCC at $17,500. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

For other top donor groups related to agriculture, go to OpenSecrets.org. https://www.opensecrets.org/…

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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