- Select one interest group to research.
The interest group I chose was agribusiness.
- Evaluate the influence of the group.
The group is not as influential as many other groups like the financial sector, lawyers, or even labor. The agribusiness sector has contributed $65 million to federal 2008 election cycle while the financial sector contributed $468.8 million during the same time. They only have half the number of lobbyists as compared to the financial sector.
- What tactics does the group use to get their message across?
Agribusiness is an interest group that represents many diverse interests including crop and meat producers, poultry companies, dairy farmers, tobacco companies, and food manufacturers and stores. This diversity compels them to use only the broadest tactics to get their message across. They mainly use their money and influence to get their message across. They use money in two ways. They give a great deal of money to the people sympathetic to them and less money to the others and also withhold money from people completely opposed to their agenda. They give mostly to the Republican Party, though the sugar cane and beets industry contributes mostly to the Democratic Party.
- Do interest groups narrowly focus on their own agenda or promote public interest?
Interest groups generally pursue their own interests without much regard to public interest. For example, Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) had proposed an amendment that would have reduced crop insurance funding in order to avoid cuts to the food stamps program. This bill was defeated because the legislators who opposed it had received political contributions from agricultural industries.
Though interest groups seem to be pursuing only their own interests, they do, however, unintentionally end up promoting public interest as well. Take for example the “milk cliff” crisis as it was called. The “milk cliff” crisis arose from a lack of legislation that needed to be passed which would bypass an outdated law that would have forced the government to buy large quantities of milk. This would have driven the price of milk up to $8.00 per gallon. The dairy industry did not want the price of milk to go up primarily because that could turn some consumers away from drinking milk permanently. The public, too, obviously did not wish for milk prices to rise so sharply, which demonstrated how the public sometimes does benefit from the interest groups trying to benefit themselves.