In the summer of 2003, shoppers in Southern California began getting a break on the price of milk.It's a long article, but it's essential reading for anyone in New Zealand dairy who wants a reasonable assessment of what the American dairy industry is like. I love the final line from would-be American dairy entrepreneur Hettinga:
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.).
Last March, Congress passed a law reshaping the Western milk market and essentially ending Hettinga's experiment -- all without a single congressional hearing.
"They wanted to make sure there would be no more Heins," said Mary Keough Ledman, a dairy economist who observed the battle.
"I still think this is a great country," Hettinga said. "In Mexico, they would have just shot me."Lowered expectations about America's commitment to free markets is key to happiness.
Here's Hettinga's website; it's not been updated in some time, so I really don't know whatever happened to his lawsuit.