Agriculture’s Financial Role in the 2016 Elections: Contributions by Sub-sector (Part 2)

Earlier this month, I wrote a post that provided an overview of the financial contributions to candidates in the 2016 election cycle. The post focused on differentiating between the trends and patterns of contributions from individuals who were associated and not associated with the agricultural industry.
In addition to identifying whether a contribution was associated with the agricultural sector, the data further differentiate contributions by the sub-sector in the agricultural industry. This post largely focuses on presenting information about these data.
I encourage you to read my previous post for a more in-depth look at the sector-level contribution data, but as a brief review, below is a graph that shows the monthly and aggregate political contributions to the 2016 election cycle by the agricultural sector.
Political Contributions by the Agricultural Sector in the 2016 Election Cycle
Chart notes: Data are from the Center for Responsive Politics and represent total financial contributions by those in the agricultural industry, as defined by the Center of Responsive Politics.
The graph shows that individuals associated with the agricultural sector, on average, contribute approximately $2 millions each month. As of July 2016, the total contributions from the agricultural sector were approximately $40 million. Of course, that’s a relatively small proportion of the $2.8 billion that have been contributed overall.
Contributions in the 2016 Election Cycle, by Agricultural Sector Classification
Chart notes: Data are from the Center for Responsive Politics and represent total financial contributions by sub-sectors within the agricultural industry, as defined by the Center of Responsive Politics.

The data show that there are significant differences between the total contributions amounts from each sub-sector. By far the largest contributor—contributing over $8.5 million—is the crop production and basic processing sub-sector. This sector includes producers and processors of sugar, fruit, vegetables, cotton, grain, soybeans, honey, rice and peanuts. You can find specifics about the contributors associated with each category here.

Within the crop production and basic processing sub-sector, individuals and interest groups associated with sugar cane and sugar beets were, by far, the largest contributors with contributions of approximately $5.5 million. The vegetable and fruit sub-sector contributed approximately $2 million, and contributions from individuals and groups in the field crops sector were just under $1 million. The livestock sector is also a major contributor with contributions of nearly $5 million.

What is a bit surprising is the relatively smaller contributions of those in the agricultural inputs sector. Contributors identified to be associated with the farm machinery and equipment, agricultural chemicals, and animal feed and health products made a total of approximately $3 million.

Lastly, I wanted to take a peek into the potential differences between each sub-sector’s contributions to a specific presidential candidate. The table below presents these data. While the contributions data indicate that most contributions were made to either political action committees (PACs) or, to a smaller extent, other candidates campaigning in the Senate and House races, when individuals did contribute to specific presidential candidates, in many cases and across most agricultural sub-sectors, the contributions were to Hillary Clinton, rather than Donald Trump.

Agricultural Sector ClassificationRecipientAmount
Agricultural chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides)Clinton$33,885
Agricultural chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides)Trump$5,211
Agricultural chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides)PACs/Other candidates$1,062,521
Agricultural services & related industriesClinton$11,228
Agricultural services & related industriesTrump$1,775
Agricultural services & related industriesPACs/Other candidates$2,193,267
Agriculture, otherClinton$1,725
Agriculture, otherTrump$1,807
Agriculture, otherPACs/Other candidates$316,169
Animal feed & health productsClinton$1,947
Animal feed & health productsTrump$2,750
Animal feed & health productsPACs/Other candidates$538,078
CottonPACs/Other candidates$750,734
Crop production & basic processingClinton$250,876
Crop production & basic processingTrump$91,878
Crop production & basic processingPACs/Other candidates$8,192,615
Farm bureausClinton$750
Farm bureausPACs/Other candidates$185,683
Farm machinery & equipmentClinton$1,164
Farm machinery & equipmentTrump$3,210
Farm machinery & equipmentPACs/Other candidates$1,301,384
Farm organizations & cooperativesClinton$3,900
Farm organizations & cooperativesTrump$250
Farm organizations & cooperativesPACs/Other candidates$332,544
Feedlots & related livestock servicesClinton$2,700
Feedlots & related livestock servicesTrump$250
Feedlots & related livestock servicesPACs/Other candidates$212,741
Grain traders & terminalsClinton$1,818
Grain traders & terminalsTrump$885
Grain traders & terminalsPACs/Other candidates$399,410
LivestockPACs/Other candidates$4,837,113
Milk & dairy producersClinton$34,563
Milk & dairy producersTrump$3,145
Milk & dairy producersPACs/Other candidates$2,703,299
Other commodities (incl rice, peanuts, honey)Trump$8,100
Other commodities (incl rice, peanuts, honey)PACs/Other candidates$1,063,281
Poultry & eggsTrump$6,143
Poultry & eggsPACs/Other candidates$1,874,608
Sheep and Wool ProducersPACs/Other candidates$31,417
Sugar cane & sugar beetsClinton$37,825
Sugar cane & sugar beetsPACs/Other candidates$5,459,762
Tobacco & Tobacco productsClinton$17,109
Tobacco & Tobacco productsTrump$5,817
Tobacco & Tobacco productsPACs/Other candidates$3,158,432
Vegetables, fruits and tree nutClinton$39,220
Vegetables, fruits and tree nutTrump$7,533
Vegetables, fruits and tree nutPACs/Other candidates$2,021,819
VeterinariansPACs/Other candidates$1,008,384
Wheat, corn, soybeans and cash grainClinton$3,113
Wheat, corn, soybeans and cash grainTrump$1,350
Wheat, corn, soybeans and cash grainPACs/Other candidates$979,541


In part 3 of this theme, I’ll explore how political contributions have differed across states. If you have suggestions about other questions that you’d like to be answered about political contributions, leave a comment or send an email.

(Photo by mrgarethm is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

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About Author

Dr. Anton Bekkerman is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, joining the faculty in 2009 after completing his PhD at North Carolina State University. Bekkerman's primary areas of research are grain marketing, basis and price forecast modeling, understanding how grain prices are affected by changes in supply chain infrastructures and quality demands, and analyzing the economic trade-offs of adopting alternative dryland cropping systems in Montana. One of his current projects is an investigation of how new grain loading technologies are affecting prices that Montana farmers receive for their wheat. Bekkerman is also examining the economic impacts that Montana's rapidly expanding dry pulse industry will have on the state's crop industry. Although Bekkerman grew up on the east coast, he has recently made a small step toward production agricultural after acquiring three backyard chickens.

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