|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
When Cows Retire & Collect Pensions Just kidding. Cows don't get pensions, people do. That is...unless their pension funds have been looted or misappropriated as seems to be the case at the largest dairy co-op in America. After years of hard work, cows do not get to retire. Their reward is to either get clubbed, stunned, or shot in the head. Their throats are then cut, and their blood sprays from severed necks. Sometimes, cows drown on their own blood as they gurgle their way to oblivion. Cows get no pensions. However, dairy workers do get pensions. Sometimes. The largest dairy co-op in America is the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). In 2002, DFA farms cumulatively produced 80 quarts of milk for each American. With thousands of employees, DFA must have some enormous pension fund, right? Wrong. An investigation by my favorite pro-dairy newspaper, The Milkweed (608-455-2400) reveals that something is very rotten, west of Denmark. An audit of 2002 books by Milkweed's editor, Pete Hardin, reveals that DFA's financial condition is precarious, to say the least. According to Hardin, somebody is playing with DFA's books. DFA's pension deficit is frightening. Hardin writes: "Add 'em, up. The Milkweed concludes that DFA's total exposure on its employee pension programs slid backwards about $150 million in 2002." Add the $162 million in pension deficits to nearly $400 million in phony intangible assets, and one finds that DFA is milk gone sour. Hardin writes: "The mumbo-jumbo contained in DFA's 2002 audit is purposefully confusing. DFA claims equities of $638 million. However, that figure must be compensated by acknowledged 'intangible assets' of about $400 million. DFA reports 'Goodwill' of $105 million and 'intangibles' of $294 million. 'Goodwill' and 'intangibles' are bookkeeping fictions." The Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice is now conducting an investigation of DFA's illegal and deceptive practices. The pension fund fraud is just the tip of the iceberg. This should get interesting. According to Hardin, the CEO of DFA, Gary Hanman, is close friends with the Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft. Make that, "very close." Rumor has it that these two Missouri friends have become close Washington, D.C. drinking buddies. During his unsuccessful bid for a Missouri Senate seat in 2000, Ashcroft set a record by accepting $2,028,823 in PAC donations, ranking him in the top ten for contributions from industries, many of which have anti-trust and other matters pending before the Justice Department. Agri-business represented 7.6 percent of those funds, and dairy sat atop the list. The dairy industry has a long history of buying their way to power. See what resulted from the famous ("I am not a crook") Richard Nixon $3 million dairy bribe in 1971. At DFA, it's business as usual. http://www.notmilk.com/trickydick.html On Monday (April 21, 2003), I spoke with Craig Conrad, Esq., and Judy Boudreault, Esq., two of the Justice Department attorneys investigating the DFA case. Before my phone call, they were not aware of the pension fund debacle, nor the dairy industry's previous history of placing substantial dollars into political activities. Should you have any further information about how DFA conducts their business, please give these lawyers a call: 202-514-5387.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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