UPDATE: Is NMPF’s Jaimie Castaneda about to lose his job? Sure looks that way.
Editor’s note: Back around 9 months ago Udder Stupidity was the first to point out the walking, talking blatant conflict of interest rule violator known as Jaimie (he pronounces it “Himey” – we kid you not) Castaneda. But now well-placed sources tell us Castaneda will soon be out on his derriere, or should we say “hiney” (rhymes with “Jaime”)?
We reprint that post as a continuing public service:
The dairy industry’s ongoing effort to redefine the word milk via the Dairy PRIDE Act is based on the flimsy excuse that consumers are too damned stupid to tell the difference between products like “soymilk” and cow milk. Trying to convince Congress of such a bogus narrative is so important to them that they will do anything – including cheating – to lobby for their version of reality.
To do this, the lobbyists at the National Milk Producers Federation are brazenly bending every rule they come across. It is the epitome of the SWAMP that is Washington, D.C. First, let us tell you what the law says:
PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.─A board may not engage in, and shall prohibit the employees and agents of the board from engaging in─
(2) using funds collected by the board under the order, any action undertaken for the purpose of influencing any legislation or governmental action or policy other than recommending to the Secretary amendments to the order.
Now, meet Jaimie Castenada, one of National Milk’s lobbyists. Seems that Jaimie doesn’t just break that rule – he flaunts it.Here’s what Castenada’s resume says:
Coordinate the lobbying efforts of NMPF staff for the 2007 Farm Bill and lead the development of the Margin Insurance Program establish in the 2013 Farm Bill. Also, responsible for handling International Trade Affairs for NMPF. In that capacity, I am currently the chief staff member representing the U.S. dairy industry before USDA, USTR and foreign countries on all international matters.
And here is how JC introduced himself to the House Ag Committee:
“My name is Jaime Castaneda and I am a Senior Vice President of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). In addition to my role for NMPF, I also lead trade policy issues for the U.S. Dairy Export Council in order to pursue policies that help advance the interests of the broader dairy industry.”
A majority of the funding for USDEC – a group which JC testified to Congress employs him – comes from the dairy check-off fund. So Jaimie is a double dipper on steroids – he works for two dairy groups. That’s tough to do since the aforementioned law establishes firewalls (at least for lobbying) between the two groups.
And then there’s this — right from the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) blog:
“A majority of USDEC’s funding comes from DMI and the dairy checkoff. Yet, USDEC maximizes its checkoff funding with additional revenue from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and membership dues.”
Here’s a handy little reference guide from the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service Marketing Grants Division (who oversees checkoffs) on the use of proceeds provided to recipients:
Cost Category Affected AMS Grant Program Description, Guidance and Exceptions
Lobbying ALL Unallowable as defined in 2 CFR § 200.450
Finally, yet additional funding is raised from membership dues, including dues from processors, who are members of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). This is what the President of the IDFA, Michael Dykes, told the House Ag Committee in a recent hearing:
“The Dairy Pride Act “tends to pit farmer against farmer.” And “So far, FDA has not concluded that consumers are being misled (by soymilk). This issue needs to be resolved in the market place is our position.”
So, let’s re-cap, shall we?
Jaime’s a self-described lobbyist, who works for USDEC, a group whose funding is either 1) from a source that prohibits its use for lobbying, or 2) membership dues paid by companies who oppose what Jaime lobbies for.
But wait! There’s more! Here’s our favorite snippet from Jaime’s bio:
Since March 2012, Jaime has also served as Executive Director of the Consortium for Common Food Names. In this position, Jaime works with food organizations in the United States and around the world defending the rights of consumers, buyers and producers to continue the use of a variety of generic food names.
We would assume that means Jaimie is hard at work defending generic food names used by consumers, buyers and producers for decades – generic names such as soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk
Sure he is.
Maybe the USDA Inspector General would like Jaime’s phone number. He might have a few questions about his – ahem – unusual compensation situation. As a public service, here’s that number: (703) 508-3049. Or maybe the IG wants to talk to one of Jaime’s bosses, Tom Vilsack (703) 508-3049 and/or Jim Mulhern (703) 243-6111. Loyal readers will remember Vilsack and Mulhern as 2/3 of the Three Amigos.
Better yet, just come on down to suite #600, 2107 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington. Both of Jaime’s bosses’ offices are in the same location, separated by a highly flammable, paper-thin firewall, of course.
“Go ahead, FDA, call me a bovine.
I dare you!”
As the FDA begins to review regulations concerning the definition of the word “milk,” they are undoubtedly running into some glaring problems with the definition sought by the National Milk Producers Federation.
Case in point: It’s been decades since the nut and soybean people began producing and marketing such things as Soy Milk and Almond Milk. The big dairy folks barely complained about the upstarts – that is, until the starting cutting into their market share. But to show you how absurd their whole “definition of the word Milk” is, one only has to look around them to see Dairy, Inc.’s attempts are fraught with examples of the utter ( or is it “udder”?) stupidity of their labeling scam.
Take “Mother’s Milk” for example. Under the proposed FDA guidelines it would be illegal to call it milk. “But,” you say, “mother’s milk is not a commercial commodity. It has no monetary value.” Think again, bucko:
— Miami Herald, 9/10/2018
And then, of course there’s “Milk of Magnesia.” After all, it’s white, it’s liquid, you drink it. Wow, that must be really confusing to NMPF folks. It must be banned! Under the NMPF version of the rules, the makers would have to relabel it and remove the word “milk.” Maybe something like:
“The Non-lacteal Secretions of a Non-bovine of Magnesia.”
See how quickly this goes from a definition reevaluation to a classic example of bureaucratic insanity?
The dairy folks, and some at the FDA itself, say that consumers are too damn stupid to know the difference between nuts and cows and that they might somehow be harmed by people who consumed soy milk thinking it was cow milk. We are waiting for the extensive and comprehensive study that in the last 40+ years show the multitudes of consumers who were physically harmed by the confusion.
But the doctor offices have numerous examples of lactose intolerant victims who had a bad reaction to milk. Go figure. Maybe the FDA should require the dairy industry to re-label their product to say:
DANGER: Contains the lacteal secretions of a bovine. Studies have shown that for some people consuming this product can cause severe gastrointestinal discomfort, possibly even death.
Stupid suggestion? Yeah. Almost as stupid as banning the labeling of Soy as milk.
If you think we are wrong, try telling your nursing wife that according to the NMPF and the FDA, she will henceforth be required to refer to herself as a “cow” or stop using the phrase “mother’s milk” while breast feeding.
Let us know how that works out for you.