Lobbying expenses reported by food and agribusiness companies and trade associations and producer groups last year totaled $137,853,745, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics from lobbyist disclosure filings in Congress. The total is up from $131,031,173 reported the previous year.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which lobbies on health care as well as agriculture and food, topped the membership and trade associations in our selective list of lobby interests in both 2011 and 2012. Monsanto was the leading spender in agribusiness lobbying, with more than $5.9 million last year and nearly $6.4 million in 2011.

The American Farm Bureau Federation reported the highest lobbying expense among farm groups with nearly $5.7 million last year – a figure that includes lobbying efforts of 13 state Farm Bureau affiliates. The AFBF Washington lobby effort recorded nearly $2.5 million last year and the remaining $3.2 million for Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas Farm Bureaus. AFBF expense reports covered salaries and activities of 23 registered lobbyists.

The Center for Responsive Politics “agribusiness” category – encompassing forestry and tobacco as well as food and farm entities – tallied 485 organizations and 1,107 lobbyists last year, compared to the previous year’s 479 groups and 1,122 individual lobbyists.

Sugar producers and processors continued last year’s high spending trends, with US Beet Sugar Association and American Crystal Sugar among the heaviest hitters in the entire agriculture industry. The latter’s 2012 lobbying expenditures were over 25 percent higher than its 2011 receipts. Still, agribusiness lobbying expenditures didn’t even crack the top 20 spenders of 2012. The US Chamber of Commerce spent over $136 billion last year, while General Electric spent $21.1 billion.

Reported expenses include both in-house lobbyists and fees paid to consulting groups. Lobby firms’ income also is reported under disclosure laws. A cursory look at lobbying concerns with big food and farm interests shows Cornerstone Government Affairs earning $11.230 million last year, $13.010 million in 2011. The Bockorny Group earning $6.453 million last year, $7.456 million in 2011. The Russell Group took in $4.065 million in 2011 and $3.685 million in 2012.

Michael Torrey Associates had $910,000 lobbying income last year, up from $850,000 in 2011. Gordley Associates reported $485,000 in 2012, up from $285,000 in 2011.

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