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National farm groups remain neutral

Published on October 5, 2012 3:01AM

Last changed on November 2, 2012 9:16AM

Though they sound off on political issues, most national farm groups are officially neutral in the presidential campaign.

"We actually do not endorse a candidate," said Cody Lyon, director of grass roots and policy advocacy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"Given our structure and status, we remain nonpartisan down the line," he said. "But we look forward to working with whomever (is elected) on issues that are important to our membership."

Likewise, about a half-dozen organizations contacted by the Capital Press said they would not endorse either President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Those include the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Corn Growers Association and U.S. Cattlemen's Association.

In addition, no endorsements can be found on the websites of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, the National Farmers Union, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the American Soybean Association, the USA Rice Federation or National Chicken Council.

Like many organizations, the NPPC donates money to candidates based on specific causes that impact its industry, spokesman Dave Warner said. The U.S. Cattlemen's Association sends updates out to its members on candidates' positions, but does not state a preference, said Jess Peterson, the group's executive vice president.

The lack of formal endorsements comes as farm organizations, agri-businesses and other agricultural groups have donated $57 million to candidates for the presidency and Congress this year, with most of it going to Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

In the presidential contest, ag groups have given $2.7 million to Romney and $1.1 million to Obama. For instance, the NCBA has donated $366,134 to Republicans and $32,500 to Democrats, according to the center.

-- Tim Hearden


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