Monsanto: Request for Report on Lobbying
Whereas, corporate lobbying exposes our company to risks that could adversely affect the company’s stated goals, objectives, and ultimately shareholder value, and
Whereas, we rely on the information provided by our company to evaluate goals and objectives, and we, therefore, have a strong interest in full disclosure of our company’s lobbying to assess whether our company’s lobbying is consistent with its expressed goals and in the best interests of shareowners and long-term value.
Resolved, the shareowners of Monsanto request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:
- Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
- Payments by Monsanto used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
- Monsanto’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.
For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation. “Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which Monsanto is a member.
Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
The report shall be presented to the Audit Committee or other relevant oversight committees and posted on Monsanto’s website.
As shareowners, we encourage transparency and accountability in the use of corporate funds to influence legislation and regulation both directly and indirectly. Monsanto is a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (“BIO”). In 2012 and 2013, BIO spent more than $15.5 million on lobbying. Monsanto does not fully disclose its trade association memberships, nor payments and the portions used for lobbying on its website. Absent a system of accountability, company assets could be used for objectives contrary to Monsanto’s long-term interests.
Monsanto spent $12.91 million in 2012 and 2013 on direct federal lobbying activities (opensecrets.org). These figures do not include lobbying expenditures to influence legislation in states, where Monsanto had at least 48 lobbyists in 23 states in 2012 (followthemoney.org) and has drawn attention for its lobbying (“‘Army of Lobbyists’ Led by Monsanto Helped Neuter GMO Labeling Law in Connecticut,” International Business Times, June 6, 2013). Monsanto does not disclose membership in or contributions to tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, where Monsanto has been identified as previously belonging.
We encourage our Board to require comprehensive disclosure related to direct, indirect and grassroots lobbying.