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Organic Food Companies Refrain From Lobbying Despite Increasing Prominence

Organic food companies continue to grow as consumers turn to healthier options.

Organic food companies continue to grow dramatically as consumers increasingly turn to healthier grocery options.

In at least one area, however, the conventional food industry maintained its complete dominance over the organic sector: Capitol Hill.

Politico reports that food and beverage industry giants combined to spend more than $36 million on lobbying in 2015, while some of the nation's most prominent organic and natural food companies did not employ any registered lobbyists to talk to lawmakers on their behalf.

The report compared the $35 billion organic food industry to Silicon Valley, another booming sector that tended to avoid political battles. Tech companies, however, increasingly became involved in Washington on issues ranging from telecommunications policy to immigration reform.

Proponents of the "good food" movement suggested that organic companies should consider taking a similar approach.

The House recently passed legislation that would ban states from implementing labeling requirements for foods produced with genetically modified ingredients, and other battles on dietary recommendations and school meals could also be fought with little to no input from those companies.

“There’s a disconnect between the marketplace and D.C. … In the marketplace, we’re everything,” Gary Hirshberg of organic dairy company Stonyfield told Politico. “A lot of folks are still very uncomfortable with the fact that you have pay to play — you have to be a force.”

Other companies, however, downplayed the need to cater to elected officials with the public increasingly on their side.

“Politicians react to voter sentiment,” said Gina Asoudegan of Applegate, which serves antibiotic free meats. “Our job is to increase sentiment around certain issues.”