Ah, the Power of Government

December 4, 2005

Andrea Neal column for Nov. 5, 2003
710 words

ImageINDIANAPOLIS — If you spend any time at all watching TV, you’ve no doubt heard the clever marketing slogans of the agricultural industry:

"Ah … the Power of Cheese."

"The Incredible, Edible Egg."

"Cotton … the Fabric of Our Lives."

"Got Milk?"

"Pork. The Other White Meat."

But did you know that Indiana farmers are forced to help pay for these ads, whether they like them or not, and regardless of whether they agree with the message?

It’s one of the more outrageous policies of our government and it’s pervasive throughout agriculture. In essence, Congress require farmers to pay a fee to fund promotion, research and consumer education about the benefits of their commodity. The money is collected like a tax, then handed over by the ag department to a board representing producers in the respective sectors.

These folks, as a general rule, speak for Big Agriculture, not the interests and concerns of small, family farmers, who continue to die off by the hundreds each year.

In the case of pork, the assessment amounts to about 40 cents for every $100 in sales of pork. That translates to close to $50 million a year for the National Pork Board, which has channeled much of the money to the National Pork Producers Council.

If the impropriety of the arrangement hasn’t hit you, consider this analogy. What if the government required all car sellers, whether large dealerships or used