The embattled Republican front-runner hasn't expressed his views on ag policy. But just last week, Romney telegraphed his food-and-ag agenda by announcing his Agriculture Advisory Committee. Surprise, surprise: Big Ag interests rule the roost. Here are some highlights. Randy Russell, president, the Russell Group. This was a bold move by Romney—Russell is a high-powered D.C. lobbyist whose firm boasts clients that rank among the biggest names in industrial food and agriculture. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Russell group reaped more than $4 million in lobbying income in 2011. Top clients included Cargill, Monsanto, JBS (the globe's largest meat company), PepsiCo, Yum! Brands (owner of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), Kraft, Altria, Hormel, Land O' Lakes, and the National Pork Producers Council. Russell has made a career of dashing through the revolving door that separates agribusiness from the government agencies that regulate it (bio here)—he went from serving as Farm Bill coordinator for Reagan's USDA in 1981 to heading up government relations for Pillsbury in 1982; after that, he headed back to Reagan's USDA in 1984—and promptly launched his lobbying career in 1986. Got all that? On its website, the Russell Group takes credit for ramming Monsanto's hotly contested Roundup Ready alfalfa crop through the USDA approval process in 2011.
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