FreedomWorks and the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project said the so-called cap-and-trade?bill would increase energy costs for U.S. companies, putting Deere's U.S. employees at risk for loosing their jobs if the company pursues lower-cost manufacturing sites overseas.
"Right now, leadership at John Deere are working to pass job-killing cap-and- trade legislation that would discourage the use of coal, oil and natural gas," said an anonymous narrator for the 30-second and 60-second ads.
Deere, the world's largest maker of farm equipment by sales, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The commercials will run in Waterloo, Iowa, home of Deere's farm tractor plants, and in Moline, Ill., where it manufactures combines and maintains its headquarters. The ads will appear on cable channels CNN, Fox News, Headline News and the History Channel.
Deere is being targeted because it is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of about 20 large companies that has lobbied for cap- and-trade legislation. Other members include General Electric Co. (GE), Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), General Motors Corp. and Alcoa Inc. (AA).
The ads accuse Deere of endorsing "back room deals" by Congress to assemble enough votes to pass carbon regulation. Energy legislation that included cap- and-trade passed the U.S. House last year, but has so-far stalled in the Senate.
The ads urge Deere employees to "stand up against back room deals in Washington. Tell management: No more back room deals."
The Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project has resorted to aggressive tactics in recent years to pressure members of the climate partnership to reconsider their membership.
Tom Borelli, the director of the Free Enterprise Project, has tried to portray the companies as being out-of-step with their customers and industry trade groups that oppose carbon-reduction legislation. Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and energy company ConocoPhillips (COP), recently dropped out of the partnership over differences about provisions in the legislation.
Borelli confronted Deere Chairman and Chief Executive Samuel Allen about the company's support for the legislation during the company's annual shareholders meeting in February.
"Public policy is a contact sport and employees can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines," Borelli said Wednesday. "Deere's management should side with employees and its customers in the agricultural community instead of aligning its policies with President Obama's progressive attack on fossil fuels."
FreedomWorks, which is based in Washington, D.C., and led by former House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey, aims to generate public support for lower taxes, reducing government regulation and other conservative political causes. Opponents of carbon legislation maintain that some U.S. companies will end up being at a permanent disadvantage to competitors in developing countries without limits on carbon?emissions.
Coal and petroleum fuels are major sources of carbon dioxide, or so-called greenhouse gas, which has been identified as causing the earth's atmosphere to become increasingly warmer. Under cap-and-trade legislation, major producers of carbon dioxide, such as coal-fired power plants, would have their volume of carbon emissions capped by the federal government. The companies would either have to reduce their emissions volume or purchase credits from other companies to exceed their limits. As companies reduce their carbon emissions, they would be able to sell their excess carbon credits.
Deere's stock was recently trading down 0.51% at $60.37 a share.