Amy Bickel Kansas Agland
For the past two years, the farm bill has been caught up in congressional gridlock, the debate centered on just what a trillion-dollar food and farm program should include.
Finally on Wednesday, the House passed legislation, sending it to the Senate, which is expected to vote Monday.
Nevertheless, at the end of the impasse, there were winners and there were losers.
The legislation, with its hefty price tag, attracted companies and organization from across the country, all wanting a piece of the farm bill pie.
According to opensecrets.org, the farm bill was the sixth-most heavily lobbied measure in Washington in 2013. More than 350 organizations - from Pepsi and Wal-Mart to the American Farm Bureau - spent cash to get their voices heard on what they thought should be in the legislation.
The American Farm Bureau spent the most time on the issue filing 23 times about their efforts in 2013, which show the farm organization spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, with crop insurance the most listed reason on disclosure reports.
Not that farm organizations just use their cash for lobbying, as OpenSecrets notes. They've sunk money into the campaigns of congressional representatives, including Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who received nearly 46 percent of his campaign total in 2012 from agribusiness.
Meanwhile, farm groups weren't the only one wanting to shape the farm bill. PepsiCo lobbied about potential restrictions in food stamp spending, as well as childhood obesity and were among the top 10 farm bill lobbyists.
A few years ago in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed prohibiting soda from being purchasable with food stamps, but the USDA shot down the idea.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Michele Simon, who spearheads the firm Eat Drink Politics, some of the top groups who teamed up to fight the New York proposal included the Grocery Manufacturers Association, The National Grocers Association, the American Beverage Association and the Snack Food Association.
The candy lobby is equally as great, Simon notes in a 2012 report "Food Stamps: Follow the Money." She notes the candy lobby even worries children may be deprived.
From the talking points: Sometimes good intention goes too far. For example, limiting food choices in SNAP could deny children an occasional treat during the holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, Hanukah, Easter."
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 82 percent of SNAP benefits were redeemed in supermarkets and superstores in 2012. Wal-Mart stores, which also lobbies on SNAP - is no doubt one of the top for SNAP receipts. According to a Tulsa World story, Oklahoma Wal-Mart stores received $506 million in SNAP receipts between mid-2009 to early 2011. The newspaper received the data from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Repeated Freedom of Information Act requests by The News during the past several years to obtain SNAP spending data in Kansas from the USDA have been denied. Similar requests to obtain the data from the Kansas Department of Children and Families ended with a statement that the information should be obtained from the USDA.
Others in the top 10 for farm bill lobbying include: National Cable and Telecommunications Association, International Dairy Foods Association, Comcast Corp, American Sugar Alliance, Monsanto, Purdue University, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Dairy Farmers of America.