As member-owners of Land O’Lakes, Inc. know, playing an active role in electing politicians that understand ag issues is a year-round job. In election years, and off-cycle years alike, Land O’Lakes and our members vigilantly advocate on positions that impact our businesses and industry.
One way Land O’Lakes members ensure that their collective voice is heard in Washington is through the Land O’Lakes Political Action Committee (LOLPAC). Contributions to LOLPAC are used to help elect candidates from both major parties that help us remain competitive. Last year, LOLPAC contributed $150,000 to federal candidates, with 60 percent directed toward Republicans and 40 percent toward Democrats.
In August, Land O’Lakes corporate board director and hog producer Doug Reimer joined forces with LOLPAC on his Iowa farm to host U.S. Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) for a fundraiser and roundtable discussion on the 2014 Farm Bill and priorities for the next Farm Bill negotiation.
Doug hosted about 40 people at the roundtable discussion that also included the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, CHS and Chuck Conner, CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. The goal was to help educate Rep. Blum on the importance of the Farm Bill, and highlight the specific parts of the bill that are especially important to Land O’Lakes and our members. “I wanted people to see how an ordinary farmer like me can go to Washington, D.C. and talk with a congressman,” Doug says. “We brought the Hill to us.”
The second part of the event was a fundraiser for Rep. Blum’s campaign, that featured an appearance by Land O’Lakes president and CEO Chris Policinski. But this was a far cry from the upscale fundraisers some politicians attend – with a farm setting and not a business suit in sight.
Doug says that fundraisers like his draw constituents from around the area, and it gives ag producers a chance to tell Rep. Blum what issues matter to them.
“Rep. Blum is learning, and he wants to learn a lot. I know he’s more knowledgeable about agriculture than he was when he first ran,” Doug says. “And I’m not the only one who helped educate him.”
Julie Vieburg with Government Relations, the PAC manager, says LOLPAC ensures that Congress hears from members.
"It’s a tool to help us educate Members of Congress that might not have experience with agriculture but still vote on our issues. LOLPAC gives us the opportunity to build relationships and support Members that are champions for our causes by being pro-agriculture and pro-business.” she says.
With less than 2 percent of today’s population involved in agriculture and less than 15 percent of Members of Congress representing rural areas, we must make advocacy a priority to remain competitive.
“It’s important that we’re out there. It’s important to be heard, and the PAC is one way to be heard,” Doug says. “When you’re in Washington, you have to talk to everybody. We need to be able to talk to people of the party we personally don't support.”
And although LOLPAC is just one voice in Washington, for members, it’s the most important.
“We don’t have a huge PAC by any means,” Doug says. “But it gets us in the door. Our members have good people representing us in D.C.”