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Slicing Into Food Industry’s $40 Million Lobbying Efforts

The food industry — including dairy, livestock, poultry and eggs and all food processing — spent about $40 million on lobbying the federal government last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Yet more than half of the 60 food businesses asked last week 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.

Being without lobbyists, those companies might not know that the congresswoman with all the questions about antibiotics in food is one of the most powerful members of Congress.

If the Democrats retake control of the House following the November elections, Slaughter will resume the duties she had as Rules Committee chair, determining what gets voted on by the full House. No lobbyist ever wants to get on the wrong side of a Rules Committee chair.

Slaughter’s mailing list of leading fast food companies, beef and poultry producers, and grocery store chains is a cross-section of the food industry, and a way to take a snapshot look at current federal lobbying by the food industry.

Food industry lobbying is tracked at the macro level by the Center for Responsive Politics within the overall Agribusiness section. During 2011, agribusiness, including the food industry, employed 1,081 federal lobbyists who were working for 443 clients at a cost of $123.6 million.

But less than half of the agribusiness total can be directly attributed to the food industry.

Food Safety News pulled the lobbyist reports filed in January 2012 for the fourth quarter of 2011. The top 10 are ranked in descending order based on their reported quarterly spending.

Both staff and contract lobbyists are listed, and the issues they are lobbying on are summarized from their disclosure form:

1. Tyson Foods Inc. – $464,837.24

Lobbyists: Charles Penry  (Tyson); James B. Christian (Breaux Leadership Group) and Patrick Raffaniello, (Raffaniello & Associates).

Issues: Eliminating corn ethanol tax credit. Ethanol policies, immigration reform. Foreign beef markets, food safety issues, GIPSA and labeling.

2. McDonald’s Corporation – $430,000

Lobbyists: Chester “Bo” Bryant, Jr. and Jimmie Williams (McDonald’s); Marc J. Gerson and Rocco V. Femia (Miller & Chevalier); Justin Gray, William Gray, and Manuel Maribal (Gray Global Advisors); and Jon Piebani, James Wiltraut, Martin Corry, and David Aimone  (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney).

Issues: 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).

Also, debt collection and Securities and Exchange Commission requirements on executive compensation.

3. Cargill Inc. –  $360,000

Lobbyists: Anne Murphy, Michael L. Mullins, Anne Knapke, and Bryan Dierlam (Cargill).

Issues: Dodd-Frank implantation as impacting commodity futures, ag competition, GIPSA, Farm Bill policy, bio-based products, biotechnology, the debt limit, general energy policy, biofuels, EPA regulations, cross-state air poluution rules. Food safety, corn sugar policies, sodium, SNAP, school lunch program, child nutrition. Labor, power, waterway issues, foreign trade.

4. Smithfield Foods – $265,000

Lobbyists: L.F. Payne, Louis Finkel, Frank Donatelli, and Mona Mohib (McGuire Woods Consulting)

Issues: 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, Foreign Sales Corporation and Extraterritorial Income Exclusion, immigration, E-Verify and free trade agreements.

5. Hormel Foods Corporation – $123,076

Lobbyists: Joe Svedberg (Hormel)

Issues: 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, S 3656, Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010, GIPSA Proposed Rule to Implement Livestock Regulations, biofuels policy and animal care.

Also, foreign trade acts, HR 1549 Sub therapeutic antibiotics (entire bill), campaign rules OFCCP Rules, and persuader rules.

6. Starbucks – $120,000

Lobbyists: Lori Otto Punke (Starbucks), Michael Evans, Karishma Page, Patrick Heck, John Godfrey and Daniel Ritter (K&L Gates LLP)

Issues: 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

Lobbyists:  Brendon Cull (Kroger)

Issues: Multi-employer pension laws, on-line sales tax collection, dairy policy and the Farm Bill, menu labeling, SNAP and WIC funding.

8. Safeway – $90,0000

Lobbyists: Robert Jones, Bill Anaya, and Elinor Hiller (Alston & Bird).

Issues: Energy, health care, implementation of food safety legislation, front of package labeling, menu labeling, and FDA funding issues.

Also, tax reform and the U.S. budget.

9. Wegmans Foods – $90,000

Lobbyists: Aubrey Rothrock (Patton Boggs LLP) and Lindsay Hooper, Jonathan Talisman, Richard Grafmeyer, joseph Mikrut, William McKenny, Lawrence Willcox, and Christopher Javens (Capitol Tax Partners).

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

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

Lobbyists: Randall Russell, Edward Barron, Tyson Redpath and Andrew Harker (The Russell Group.)

Issues; Highway reauthorization act, dairy policy reforms in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill, Dairy Policy Act of 2011, implementation of Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, and Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Falling just outside the top 10 are tax lobbyists Mathew Schlapp and Frank Sadler, who are contracted through their Cove Stategies to work for Walmart on “e-fairness taxation issues.”   The pair are the only lobbyists reporting they are doing work for the retail powerhouse at $40,000 per quarter.

Wendy’s, Perdue Farms, Pizza Hut and Target are among the food businesses with a $20,000 per quarter contract lobbyist on retainer. National Beef and Taco Bell Franchisees have lobbyists on $10,000 per
quarter retainers.

Food businesses on Slaughter’s mailing list with no federal lobbyist include: A&W Restaurants Inc., Applegate Farms, Au Bon Pain, Bell & Evans, Blimpie, Bojangle’s, Bon Appetit Management Co., Carl Jr’s, Chick Fil-A, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Coleman Natural Foods Compass Group, Costco,and Dean & Dulca.

Also with no contact lobbyist on retainer are: Dunkin Donuts, Hardee’s, In-N-Out Burgers, Jack in the Box, Jennie O Turkey Store, Murray’ Chicken, Niman Ranch, Ozark Mountain Port, Panda Express, Panera, Pilgrim’s Pride, Popeyes, Restaurant Associates, Roy Rogers, Sonic, Stoneyfield Farm, Stop and shop, Subways, Sweetgreens and Tim Hortons.

Some, like Applebee’s, Domino’s Pizza and Trader Joe’s, once had federal lobbyists, but no longer do.

Many individual companies may not have their own federal lobbyists because of the strength of the food industry’s various trade associations. They are known for both strong lobbying shops and their grassroots networks.

© Food Safety News