American Agriculture Movement

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.


The American Agriculture Movement has 4500 entries in the tobacco archives, and another 400 under the name American Agricultural Movement. It was a very active lobby organisation for the tobacco industry, run by David Senter who was National Director, and his wife (or sister) Joan Senter who also ran the American Family Farm Foundation. These operations were funded and controlled through Senter Associates which later became David Senter & Associates.


Documents & Timeline

1988 Dec Susan Stuntz the Issues Manager at the Tobacco Institute made a speech to the board of directors of the Fertilizer Institute which had asked the Tobacco Institute for lobbying advice. She sent a copy of her speech to Sam Chilcote, her boss. [Very truncated here]

This morning, I would like to examine some of the elements that make up Issues Management... as the Tobacco Institute understands and practices it.

As a rule we do not speak to groups about how we do what we do. but ... when the National Journal says that the Tobacco Institute and the Fertilizer Institute are among the top five lobbies in town ... and the American Medical Association is among the bottom five... we were encouraged to stop by.

When it comes to tactics, and especially with the creation and use of coalitions ... we find the right specialists, and give them the job.

We use literally hundreds of professionals... scientists... engineers... pollsters... coalition experts... economists... and communicators... most of them independent. We buy just what we need, when we need it. We can change talent ... without having to change our entire team. Taken as a whole the process of issues management, from analysis through tactics, has accomplished several things for us.

First, we win most of the time. i won't bore you with the numbers... but we lost just one of 145 significant federal bills in the 100th Congress... and fewer than one in ten State measures last year.

Our image -- what's wrong with being considered tough and effective? it discourages some critics from even trying.

[In tobacco circles this was known as the Big Chill tactic. They would pour money into a campaign to defeat a candidate - and then quietly let it be known by the other politicians that they had been behind the defeat. This would bring any potentially wayward maverick anti-smoking politicians into line.

Second, we work through so many Third Parties and Coalitions that we have built many important, productive, trusting relations with key groups.

Our image with them is quite good. Groups as diverse as the AFL-CIO; the U.S. Chamber; the American Legion; the Association of Fire Chiefs; and Black Newspaper Publishers, the American Agriculture Movement, and the National Toxics Campaign... like us just fine. [2]
[This is an amazing turn-around for the NTC; in just a few months it had been transformed from critic to ally.]

1989 Jan 4 Susan Stuntz to her assistant Debbie Schoonmaker (both TI) about the need to review support for some coalition groups, especially those associated with Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) and Jim Savarese. She lists current payments and is looking for reductions in cost:

[3]


1989 Feb 6 Ogilvy & Mather has sent a report to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute about their current projects (with Jim Savarese) in opposing excise tax increases.

  • Leadership for the New Century
        Following a conference they are writing a White Paper to be distributed to Congress and the labor unions
  • American Agricultural Movement
        With Savarese they are writing an economic impact paper on excise taxes + brochures, briefings and media report; also a State Fair plan in 18 states; article in the AAM Reporter attacking excise taxes; planned mailing to 10,000 names from AAM list.
  • Economic Policy Institute
        They have two reports ready for release in early 1989 -- promoting progressive taxes as alternative to cigarette excises. Also an anti-excise study by Professor Richard Musgrave.
  • Citzens for Tax Justice
        New report on progressive revenues due in next two months. O&M will work with CTJ on promoting these. Also a Minnesota report in early February.
  • Public Employees Division (AFL-CIO)
        An extra 5000 copies of White paper are being printed for distribution to State newspapers; legislators, etc.
[4]

1989 June 2 Beth Bring at Ogilvy & Mather is contacting Carol Hrycaj and Debbie Schoonmaker at the Tobacco Institute about the promotion of the American Agricultural Movement's (AAM) study (trying to prove that farmers are discriminated against by excise taxes -- like those on cigarettes and alcohol). This 'study' has been done by two Cash-for-Comments Network Economists, Robert B Ekelund and James E Long], commissioned through the Savarese/Tollison organisation. Lobbyist David Senter ran the AAM.

In addition to the press conference and video and radio releases that took place, we mailed the press release to AAM's national media list. The list is made up of about 900 rural publications across the country (including newspapers and journals). The study played particularly well with reporters for rural newspapers and syndicates.

She is recommending an expanded program of promotion using such organisations as the League of Rural Voters (LRV)

Recently, we met with Julie Ristau of LRV to discuss possible coalition activities. One of the options we discussed was distribution of the AAM rural excise tax study to LRV's extensive rural media network. LRV would also work the study through its activist network. [5]