The farming industry is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to political influence. During the Agri-Pulse Food & Ag Issues Summit, California State Senator Brian Dahle emphasized the point that political action requires funding support and coordination. Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said that it was an important factor to consider. Puglia explained that it can be tough to ask farmers to dedicate financial resources to political efforts, which have no guarantee of success.
Senator Dahle noted that oftentimes legislation and regulations that negatively impact agriculture originate from the labor movement. Combatting those political actions requires a considerable amount of financial support. Labor unions can generate significant amounts of money through their mandatory dues structure. A portion of that money is dedicated to Political Action Committees. Puglia noted that kind of system does not exist in agriculture, which can make political influence challenging for the industry.
“In fact, no private sector industry group I’m aware of has that kind of compulsory dues structure that allows us to generate tens of millions of dollars per year for campaigns and elections. We may want that, but we don’t have that,” Puglia noted. “It really does require an industry – that is hugely diverse with thousands upon thousands of farms and farmers and individuals of differing viewpoints – to both be willing to step up their financial contributions to the political action arena, but to do so with more coordination and more collaboration and greater unity of purpose and cause.”
Listen to the radio report below.