The world’s largest ethanol producer wants to put a check box on their contracts with corn farmers to make it easier for them to donate to their political action committee.
POET wants permission from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to start an initiative called the POET PAC Cultivator Club, which would allow farmers to contribute to POET PAC at a per bushel rate.
“Under the proposed POET PAC fundraising program, contributions would be deducted on a per-bushel basis from funds due and owing to the corn farmers. Farmers that participated in the Club could choose to contribute a certain amount per bushel to POET PAC, including 1/4,1/2, or one cent per bushel,” POET’s lawyer Michael E. Toner wrote in a letter describing the proposal to the FEC.
“Over the last year, the average corn farmer has sold 35,000 bushels of corn to POET. A 1/4 cent per bushel contribution to POET PAC from a corn farmer selling 35,000 bushels of corn would result in a total POET PAC contribution of $87.50, while a 1/2 cent per bushel contribution fiom a corn farmer selling the same amount of corn would result in a total contribution of $175.00 to POET PAC.”
Writes Toner: “To the best of the POET Entities’ knowledge, none of the POET corn farmers are foreign nationals or federal government contractors.”
If approved, POET’s request could change the way that agribusiness PACs raise money. The proposal would set up a system similar to the automatic payroll deduction plans that many companies and trade associations have set up to raise money for their PACs.
POET PAC has taken in $124,300.85 so far this year, according to their latest FEC filing from May 5.
A spokesman for POET told TPM that the process would be an “easy way” for farmers to donate should they so choose.
“We work with local farmers, many of whom are also investors in POET plants and are interested in supporting elected officials who recognize the importance of clean-burning American ethanol,” Matt Merritt said in a statement. “By combining the efforts and voices of ethanol and agriculture, we can more effectively compete with a heavily entrenched fossil fuel industry.”