Program: Laboratory analysis program

Appropriation:

Interdepartmental Grants:

$181,900

 

Federal Funds:

$300,000

 

Special Revenue Funds:

$1,474,400

 

GF/GP:

$4,365,200

 

Total:

$6,321,500[15]

Program Description:

The Laboratory Analysis Program provides chemical testing and diagnostic services of a variety of substances for the state, to protect the health and welfare of citizens. For instance, farmers may have seeds tested for quality through this program.

Recommended Action:

There are two specific areas in “laboratory analysis” that should be removed from the MDA budget: equine drug testing and seed testing.

Equine drug testing: While it is true that the horse racing industry may wish to monitor drug levels in the bloodstreams of race horses to ensure the integrity and quality of the races, such an issue need not involve state government. Many sports monitor similar things without the benefit of state intrusion. For example, in weightlifting, swimming, and track and field, competitors are privately tested for legal and illegal consumption of performance enhancing drugs, and there has been very little trouble enforcing anti-drug rules. Major League Baseball soon may begin testing its players for anabolic steroids. The horse racing industry has, like the baseball and weightlifting industries, a vested interest in seeing their sport attain a high level of respect and legitimacy. Indeed, without spectator confidence in the legitimacy and fairness of the races, the horse racing industry would quickly perish. As a result of this incentive, the industry can be expected to regulate itself. Savings: $509,000.

Seed testing: The state Laboratory Analysis Program also analyzes seeds for farmers and seed dealers to ensure the quality of their seeds. This represents another corporate-welfare line item of the type found elsewhere in the MDA budget. For-profit industries have every incentive to ensure that the raw materials they use to make their products meet their standards of quality. If the industry believes that it needs a central source of analysis to check the quality of its seeds, it should use one of the many existing private agricultural associations — or create a new one — to do so. Savings: $500,000 ($97,000 from GF/GP).[16]

Program: USDA monitoring program funds

Appropriation:

All from Federal Funds:

$1,824,000

 

Total:

$1,824,000[17]

Program Description:

The USDA’s pesticide data program is a federal program administered by state governments. Michigan is one of nine states participating in the program voluntarily.[18] The program is designed to survey data and prepare reports on residue from pesticide chemicals.

Recommended Action:

Michigan could easily opt to end participation in this program. As noted above for the SRS program, most non-agricultural industries obtain market information without government assistance. There is no reason to expect any less from the agriculture industry. This program also raises the issue of whether the state of Michigan should accept federal funding for unnecessary or questionable programs, a practice which is commonly justified by the argument that if Michigan doesn’t take the money, someone else will, and that Michigan citizens somehow will be worse off. However, such federal funds should not be viewed as “cost-free” gifts that provide Michigan with jobs and benefits.[19] After all, funding originates in Michigan and her sister states in the first place. Because the federal government redistributes money back to the states through its highly political and expensive bureaucracy, Michigan and other states may get back less than they send. This phenomenon led one commentator to remark that when our money goes to Washington it tends to have a night on the town before it comes back to us. Michigan should show leadership in this area by repudiating such funds and demanding that the federal government take less from state citizens in return. Savings: $1,824,000.