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Dairyman’s criticism of Reid denounced as ‘factual untruths’

Mark French knows his milk. As a former auditor and executive director of the Nevada State Dairy Commission, he also understands federal dairy regulations.

When Republican Assemblyman and Ponderosa Dairies manager Ed Goedhart recently cut a dramatic and emotional commercial vilifying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for helping Southern Nevada’s Anderson Dairy, French could barely believe his ears. He’s sure Goedhart was either playing politics or was painfully ignorant of the facts behind Reid’s effort, and now French has stepped up to set the record straight.

He writes, “There are many factual untruths presented by Mr. Goedhart that demand a response.

“During the time that deliberations were being made to change the Federal Milk Marketing Order that impacted Southern Nevada, a consortium of milk producers, processors, Teamsters Union and the Nevada State Dairy Commission united together to remove Nevada dairies from onerous Federal regulations that put Nevada dairies at a competitive disadvantage within our own markets. Ponderosa Dairy (the very dairy where Ed Goedhart is the manager) was in full support of the Federal Exemption and indeed was signatory to the letter recommending that Nevada be exempted! It is incredible that Mr. Goedhart claims that Ponderosa Dairy is somehow the victim of legislation they supported — in person and in writing!”

French went on to shred Goedhart’s argument Reid hurt Ponderosa when he helped Anderson. French gave Goedhart the rhetorical equivalent of a body slam.

Complicating Goedhart’s portrayal is the fact his commercial was plucked from YouTube and added to Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s website. Early last week, GOP sources confirmed the commercial was about to be aired on television. French’s bruising retort might make the commercial’s sponsors think twice.

Now back to the pummeling.

French writes what he calls “some of the salient points exposing the untruth’s of Mr. Goedhart’s statements.” For one, in 1999 a group of Nevada dairy interests, including Ponderosa, approached Sens. Richard Bryan and Reid for help in winning an exemption from the 2000 Farm Bill. The senators came through. Clark County “was ultimately exempted from the Arizona Federal Milk Marketing Order (Of which Clark County was to be a part), which kept Clark County dairies from being placed at an industry killing price disadvantage. Prior to that time, Clark County was the only county in Nevada with milk producers and processors being federally regulated,” French said.

He also called disingenuous Goedhart’s claim that the senators’ efforts somehow resulted in Ponderosa being forced to ship its milk from Amargosa Valley 280 miles into California.

“This has unfortunately become a political issue,” French said. “Notwithstanding how it is perceived, it should be understood that at its foundation, the whole purpose of the exemption was to maintain the viability of the Nevada dairy industry. This allowed the milk industry in Nevada to survive in the face of Federal Regulations, which would have decimated Nevada dairies and likely crippled the industry. It is ironic that Senator Reid is being maligned in this instance for lessening Federal regulations, which in this instance, has directly allowed Nevada dairies to survive.

“Federal milk price formulations are complicated. The issues and truth behind the above explanation is not. Having Clark County removed from the Federal Milk Marketing Order has been a positive development for both Nevada consumers and the entire Nevada dairy industry, and has created a more positive environment for other dairy processors, such as Dean Foods (Meadow Gold) to establish operations in Clark County. Mr. Goedhart’s narrative is misleading and appears to be politically motivated.”

It’s enough to give voters mad cow disease, but the fevered pitch of the rhetoric speaks volumes about the Reid-Angle race.

Meanwhile, a browbeating this severe could leave Goedhart lactose intolerant.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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