Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has had a long and fruitful career in securing plenty of cozy little government contracts, grants, and earmarks for the several yogurt companies and the dairy industry in New York, the largest in the country behind only California and Wisconsin. He’s already been working on winning an expansion of a federal school-lunch contract on behalf of Chobani under the banner of “for the children!” martyrdom, and this week, his yogurt-kickbacking found yet another rallying cry: “For the athletes!”
The Russian government is refusing to allow New York-made yogurt to be shipped to the Winter Olympics, and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York wants to end the impasse.The yogurt, intended for consumption by members of the U.S. Olympic team and the media, is made by Chobani, an official sponsor of the U.S. Winter Olympic and Paralympics teams. Chobani says 5,000 single-serve cups and multiserve containers await shipment in a temperature-controlled facility. …
“I understand the need for high food safety standards for dairy products,’’ Schumer wrote in a letter to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee. “However, the U.S. government has confirmed that sanitary standards have been met to ensure that this yogurt will be safe for consumption by American citizens attending and participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics.” …
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has asked the Russian government to approve a USDA sanitary certificate for the Chobani yogurt with an assurance the yogurt would be consumed only by U.S. citizens.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 5, 2014
Look. I understand that Russia is happy to thumb its nose at us whenever they can on even the silliest things, and that taking on some foreign-policy-ish tasks on behalf of your home-state interests is not a crime — but this would all be a little more laudable if A) Schumber was willing to stand up for removing trade barriers when it came to more than just yogurt, and B) Schumer weren’t so heavily involved in securing every type of regulatory and federal advantage for the dairy companies in his pocket.
— Schumer, who was the chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, chose Fage yogurt, also produced in N.Y., to be served backstage at the Inaugural Ceremony for President Barack Obama last year.
— He recently pushed the Department of Agriculture to expand its less-than one-year-old contract with Chobani for a Greek yogurt program in schools. Chobani already has supplied more than 200,000 pounds of its products to schools in four states.
— In 2012, Schumer helped secure about $2.6 million in grants for two other yogurt plants in Batavia, N.Y.
And I don’t even want to think about the massive farm bill the just passed, ugh.
The Farm Bill the House passed Wednesday will help New York dairy farms, fruit and vegetable growers and maple producers, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says. …
The Farm Bill also strengthens Rural Development grant and loan programs, such as the value-added producers grant program, which helps dairy farmers that start producing artisanal cheese or apple growers that enter the hard cider industry.
I know it all seems like pretty small beans in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just another part of the special-interest-serving culture of cronyism that our hugely metastasized federal government makes possible. (See what I did there?)