New Investigative Report Amber Waves of Gain Released

Farm Bureau Hurts Those it Claims to Help

(04/10/2000) - Washington, DC -- On the heels of an investigative report on the American Farm Bureau Federation that was broadcast last night on the CBS News "60 Minutes" program, Defenders of Wildlife has released an in-depth white paper stating that the Farm Bureau is promoting an agenda that does more to hurt than help the family farmers it claims to represent.

The white paper, Amber Waves of Gain, which documents abuses by the Farm Bureau, is being sent to every member of Congress. The report concludes that the Farm Bureau, a powerful lobby that allegedly represents the interests of family farmers is, in reality, a wide-ranging business conglomerate with its own political agenda. In addition, despite claiming that it is the "voice of agriculture," only a fraction of the organization’s membership actually are farmers.

"We launched our investigation of the Farm Bureau because of its relentless attacks on endangered species recovery efforts, most especially those concerning wolves", said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen. "However, as we examined the Farm Bureau, we found its leadership not only opposed almost every environmental measure, but they also advocated positions that harm rural family farmers the very people they claim to represent. We concluded that the Farm Bureau is no friend of the family farmer, no friend of the environment and out of touch with the values of much of mainstream America," Schlickeisen stated. According to Amber Waves of Gain, the Farm Bureau has aggressively opposed a wide range of environmental initiatives, including the Endangered Species Act; the clean water, clean air and safe drinking water acts; wetlands laws; pesticide regulations and efforts to curb global warming.

Despite claiming to represent the interests of America’s farmers, we found the Farm Bureau uses its influence on Capitol Hill to support its own business interests to the detriment of its members and the environment, said Schlickeisen. In fact, we know that many members - cattle ranchers, hog producers and farmers - no longer trust the Farm Bureau to act on their behalf.

While one measure of the Farm Bureau’s size is the $200 million or more that it accumulates from yearly membership dues, the report states that the national, state and county farm bureaus also control insurance companies producing annual revenue of some $6.5 billion and cooperatives producing revenue of some $12 billion.

Founded in 1911 by the Chamber of Commerce in Bingham, New York, the Farm Bureau now is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, recently listed as the 14th most influential in Washington, D.C. by Fortune magazine. While the national headquarters is located in Park Ridge, Illinois, the organization also has a large number of state and county bureaus in almost every state.

In 1997, the Farm Bureau won a court order calling for the removal of all wolves in and around Yellowstone National Park. Defenders of Wildlife called the ruling a devastating setback to what has been referred to as one of the most successful wildlife conservation efforts of the 20th century. In January 2000, an appeals court in Denver, Colorado, reversed the lower court’s ruling and the wolf program was allowed to continue. The Farm Bureau, which has not announced whether it will appeal the decision, also has fought the Mexican wolf reintroduction program that began in 1998 in Arizona and New Mexico.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270