Sunday, December 10, 2006

...and Absolute Power Corrupts...(Ethanol, Anyone?)

Think you're paying a lot for milk?

You probably are.

The WaPost ran a story (HT Betsy's Page) which shows you that the Big Ag boys, in this case Dean Foods, are perfectly happy to screw you out of whatever they can get.

Moreover, it shows you why giving legislators power eventually results in...corruption.

In the summer of 2003, shoppers in Southern California began getting a break on the price of milk.

A maverick dairyman named Hein Hettinga started bottling his own milk and selling it for as much as 20 cents a gallon less than the competition, exercising his right to work outside the rigid system that has controlled U.S. milk production for almost 70 years. Soon the effects were rippling through the state, helping to hold down retail prices at supermarkets and warehouse stores.

That was when a coalition of giant milk companies and dairies, along with their congressional allies, decided to crush Hettinga's initiative. For three years, the milk lobby spent millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions and made deals with lawmakers, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

...Business groups, fiscal conservatives and some dairy organizations have called for Congress to overhaul the complex system of protections and subsidies, which they say is costly to taxpayers and consumers. A recent USDA study acknowledged that "dairy programs raise the retail price" of milk. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste estimates that the programs cost U.S. consumers at least $1.5 billion a year.

Bet you never knew that Harry Reid tried to exempt Nevada from milk-cost-regulations, eh?

...Kyl agreed to back removing all of Nevada from federal milk regulation, and Reid agreed to support legislation cracking down on Hettinga and protecting Arizona dairies from competition from low-priced Nevada milk.

That legislation didn't make it. But there's a lot more to the story:

But the big milk producers and dairy trade groups were already at work in Washington. Through its employees and political action committee, Dean Foods, with nearly 100 plants around the country, spent more than $600,000 on political contributions in 2005 and 2006, including $5,000 to Kyl and $3,000 to Nunes. Reid got $5,000 in 2004.

Eight groups with an interest in the legislation reported overall lobbying spending of more than $5 million in 2005 and the first half of 2006. Dean Foods reported spending almost $2.5 million, including $500,000 for outside lobbyists.

You recall Herbie (the Dairy Queen) Kohl BRAGGING about getting this bill passsed?

Reid made his move on Dec. 16, with the Senate chamber nearly empty. He brought up the milk bill, which passed a few minutes later by "unanimous consent," a procedure that requires no debate or roll call vote if both political parties agree. Reid and Kyl said in recent statements that their goal was to level the playing field for milk producers.

In late March, Boehner placed the bill on a special docket usually reserved for uncontroversial measures such as naming post offices.

It passed...

Hettinga vowed to keep supplying his customers in Arizona and California even though the new law required him to pay the Arizona pool what he said was a "crippling" sum of up to $400,000 a month.

Watch Big Ag Corn-A-Hol you in the Wisconsin Legislature during 2007--at least you'll know how they do it. And, by the way, Jim Sensenbrenner has greased the skids to Corn-A-Hol the entire country.

Ain't it wonderful to have Big Government helping you?

No comments: