Milk Cow Blues


John Schwenkler pens a detailed exposé of the government's war on raw milk. An excerpt:

[O]nce the fallacy in this initial rationale was pointed out, the [California Department of Food and Agriculture] was ready with plenty of other justifications for the new standard. It was, they suggested, a matter of public safety. But when raw milk advocates argued that coliform bacteria are not themselves a health threat and that raw milk dairies were already subject to extensive pathogen testing, this justification was abandoned. Instead, the CDFA claimed that, given the growing public concern over food safety, the new regulations were really being put in place for the good of the industry. (How Claravale, which had just spent 11 years and a million dollars building a new dairy to improve their product and help conform with the state's preexisting regulations, was going to be "helped" by AB 1735 is anyone's guess.)

That last rationale actually makes sense, if "the good of the industry" is code for "the good of the biggest companies in the marketplace":

In the midst of all this controversy, California's "conventional" dairy producers–whose representatives have donated an average of just under $300,000 a year in the last five election cycles–have been strikingly silent. Ron Garthwaite argues that we should not take this at face value: "Big corporate dai

ry" has indeed been a factor in the controversy–but as a behind-the-scenes force aiding those who are against raw milk. Its representatives have been pushing legislation like AB 1735, and "spending lots of time and money" to do so….

This sort of cozy relationship between regulating government and regulated industry is not uncommon, and its results are not always a loosening of the regulatory bonds. Lawrence Busch, director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards at Michigan State University, explains that regulatory standards are often manipulated to key constituents' ends. Busch points to the recent push by large juice manufacturers for laws requiring the pasteurization of juice–a demand which, he says, would make "lots of small cider producers, among others, incur considerable extra costs." By taking a practice that they already have in place, or a standard they've already managed to meet, and making it mandatory across the board in the name of industry uniformity or public health, established corporations can use their political influence to put their rivals at a competitive disadvantage.

[Via Rod Dreher.]