Since 1994, agricultural political action committees have been giving Republicans about twice as much money as Democrats. But in the first quarter of 2007, agriculture PACs have given Democrats $599,990 compared to $474,274 for Republicans.
"I don't think there's anything surprising about the current numbers," says Charlie Stenholm, who was a Democratic Representative from Texas and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee when the 2002 Farm Bill was written, in an article in The Hill.
Although the numbers so far this year are only initial contributions, they still suggest a significant break from past trends. In the 2005-06 cycle, Democrats received $6 million and Republicans received $12 million, according to filings compiled by PoliticalMoneyline.com.
Stenholm says that now that Democrats have the majority in both the House and Senate, special interests are likely to continue to shift their attention - and money - in their direction. "If you want to have access, that’s what you have to do," Stenholm says.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association gave more than twice as much to Republicans as to Democrats last year, but so far has given more than four times as much to Democrats. Dairy PACs also gave over twice as much to Republicans last year, and now have given close to twice as much to Democrats. And although tobacco PACs still give more to Republicans - $143,000 to $107,500 so far - it's a much smaller margin than last year, when they gave Republicans more than three times as much.