Thanksgiving is a time to talk turkey. So we decided to check in with the interests that advocate for your Thanksgiving meal.
It turns out that they're trying to take a holiday this week, too.
"We try as hard as possible not to confuse the legislative regulatory issues...with what is a uniquely American holiday," said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation, which has spent $240,000 so far this year lobbying over the agriculture appropriations bill, avian influenza, and climate change, among other things.
Brandenberger said he always hopes the association doesn't have a big issue before Congress in November. "We don't want to even create an appearance that we're mixing our members' government affairs business with the business of making sure Americans enjoy their holiday."
Of course, lobbyists for the National Turkey Federation still wind up fielding their share of cooking questions. Brandenberger said he's answered questions on the Hill ranging from whether he deep-fries his Thanksgiving turkey (he doesn't) to where one could find a heritage bird. The most popular question: "Why do I always fall asleep after I eat my Thanksgiving meal?" On that one, Brandenberger is quick to deflect blame from the birds. "The answer was because you eat so many more carbs at your Thanksgiving meal," he said.
The cranberry folks, too, lay low at Thanksgiving. "Maybe we should pardon a cranberry, huh?" joked Jeff LaFleur, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association. The Cape Cod association, along with the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, pushed for $1.25 million in research funds in the agriculture appropriations bill, but doesn't have any big issues right now.
"Everyone in the office gets free cranberries here," offered William Broydrick of Broydrick & Associates, which represents both growers' associations. Asked if he makes his own cranberry sauce, he said that "you'll have to ask my wife."
Cranberry giant Ocean Spray, meanwhile, has spent $300,000 with Cassidy & Associates so far this year, lobbying on everything from free trade agreements to the new federal dietary guidelines (they want mention of the health benefits of cranberry juice).
And the Georgia Pecan Growers Association, which has spent $30,000 with lobbyist Robert Redding Jr. so far this year, wants to be eligible for a subsidized school lunch program meant to provide more fruits and vegetables to students. But during the holiday season, they're concentrating on raising awareness in Georgia, said association president Hilton Segler.
"Our commissioner of agriculture has declared...that November is pecan month in the state of Georgia," Segler said.