December 31, 2018
Number of groups who lobbied on the farm bill
Renewed every five years, the U.S. Farm Bill is always open season for lobbyists. 2018 proved no exception, with more than 500 groups and companies hiring lobbyists over the past two years to influence the bill, making it the fourth-most lobbied bill in the 115th Congress.
The bill is so complicated and wide-ranging that it is impossible to sum up precisely what it does, and it’s exactly this complexity which makes it susceptible to manipulation by corporate interests. Those who can afford the lobbyists and lawyers are able to game the system. This much is clear in the statistics: one study notes that over the last two decades, the top 10% of farms accounted for 77% of commodity subsidies, at a total of $158 billion.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) summed it up best, saying the farm bill allows corporate farms to “manipulate the system” and hurt new and small farmers. One particular highlight from this year’s legislation, which passed in early December, is a loophole which will allow agri-businesses to designate family members as ‘farm managers’, who can then receive as much as $125,000 in subsidies whether they work on the farm or not.