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Post date: February 23 1999

New York To Defend Dairy Compact

Attorney General Spitzer said today that his office will file a legal brief to defend the Northeast Dairy Compact against a key challenge in federal court.

"The compact is vital to ensuring a viable dairy industry and to preserving the family farm tradition in New York," Spitzer said. "I am confident that the compact will prevail in this action, but we must, nevertheless, be aggressive in defending the interests of the state."

Spitzer made the announcement at the annual convention of the Farm Bureau of New York, which was meeting in Albany.

Several New York-based milk processors -- citing alleged anti-competitive effects -- filed suit against the Northeast Dairy Compact Commission last year in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The purpose of the suit is to overturn the milk pricing regulations adopted under the compact. The compact and its milk pricing mechanism were affirmed by the District Court, but the decision was appealed to the First Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, which is now reviewing the case.

Spitzer said that his office is exploring two options in defending the compact: joining an amicus brief with neighboring states, or writing a separate legal defense of the compact. "We will pursue the most effective strategy," he said, noting that the court has set an April 21 deadline for submissions.

New York’s involvement in this case is important, in part because the state is now seeking formal membership in the compact along with Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Legislation authorizing the compact was approved last year, but the state’s actual participation must be sanctioned by Congress.

Spitzer was an early supporter of the dairy compact, saying that all New Yorkers benefit from a strong dairy industry. Agriculture is the state’s largest industry.