Former Vilsack adviser to lobby for corn industry group

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

A former adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been hired to lobby for the National Corn Growers Association.

Mark Palmer, who briefly worked for the trade group a decade ago, registered last month to lobby for the association, according to Senate disclosure records released this week. Palmer will lobby on “trade and biotechnology issues,” records show.

The trade association is a vocal advocate for biotechnology crops made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. “Improved seeds derived from biotechnology provide farmers with better choices to combat weather” and other challenges, the group says on its website.

The issue made its way to Congress today, where the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture considered the societal benefits of biotechnology. Critics claim that GMOs pose health and environmental risks.

Palmer also registered to lobby on agriculture, science and small-business issues for Central Research, an Arizona-based veterans advocacy group.

Palmer launched the Washington, D.C., lobby firm Palmer Policy Group earlier this year. He served as a senior legislative adviser to Vilsack from 2009 to 2011. Palmer has also served as an adviser to the House Small Business Committee and as a staffer to Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Also, Palmer worked for the National Corn Growers Association as its director of public policy from 2003 to 2004.