On October 16, Senator Tom Coburn, (R- Okla.) unveiled his third annual “Wastebook,” a compendium of seemingly trivial projects that continue to get funding even as the federal deficit grows and national debt climbs (currently at $16.172 trillion). The 229-page report highlights 100 projects or program areas costing an estimated $18.9 billion that Coburn posits are an outdated and an outlandish waste of tax dollars. Coburn urges readers to ask themselves if they think these projects represent national priorities. Of course, one can argue that some are more defensible than others. After all, one person’s well justified project is another’s idea of gross excess.
While thumbing through the report, one project in particular captured my attention because of its relation to pet care. Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. received $505,000 in federal monies through the Community Development Block Grant administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Sergeant’s spent $500,000 for capital improvements, including machinery to manufacture pet toothpaste and shampoo. About $5,000 could be used for administrative costs. Sergeant’s was established in 1868 and is expecting to bring in $140 million in revenue this year.
Another highlighted project highlighted by Coburn was Espree, a maker of canine products. Espree received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Markets Access Program (MAP) to promote its pet products overseas.
Coburn focused on the MAP program in his June 2012 report, “Treasure Map: The Market Access Program’s Bounty of Waste, Loot and Spoils Plundered from Taxpayer.” MAP is a government program that uses tax dollars to subsidize the advertising costs of profitable agriculture companies and trade associations doing business overseas.
The Food Export Association of the Midwest, with a portfolio that includes pet foods, received $11.2 million in 2012 from MAP. The Food Export Association recently subsidized the market development activities of the Wholistic Pet Organics Company which “produces certified organic and human grade animal health products and food supplements.”
Both reports are publicly available for free on the internet:
- Wastebook 2012
- Treasure MAP: The Market Access Program’s Bounty of Waste, Loot and Spoils Plundered from Taxpayers
For more information please contact Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division.