Dairy groups spent a lot in winning farm bill battles

Monday, June 10, 2002

WASHINGTON -- National dairy farm groups spent nearly $400,000 on lobbying in the second half of 2001 and contributed to almost every member of an important agriculture panel in winning two key legislative fights.

The farm bill that emerged from a House-Senate conference committee and was signed into law last month was stripped of a provision that would have banned the sale of livestock so sick they must be dragged to market.

The dairy industry opposed this amendment because most of these "downed animals" are dairy cows that can be slaughtered for meat after they no longer can produce milk.

The industry also won a new national price support system. It replaces the Northeast Dairy Compact that some Republicans had pledged to crush in retaliation for Vermont Sen. James Jeffords' bolt from the GOP last year.

In the current election cycle, the Dairy Farmers of America's political action committee contributed money to 15 of the 16 conference committee members who are up for re-election this year.

The only such member who did not receive a contribution was Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who opposed the new dairy program.

The organization, which did not return phone messages, also spent $180,000 lobbying members of Congress in the second half of last year, according to its latest filing.

Among the issues listed on the filing were the overall farm bill, which included the dairy program, and the downed animal amendment, which had passed both houses before disappearing in the conference committee.

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