Printer Friendly

Got Shrooms?

Lore has it that mushrooms are aphrodisiacs, but lately they've been stirring more spleen than lust. Growers of the tasty fungi have been fighting each other in court over whether the government can force companies to join collective advertising efforts. In late November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and oral arguments likely will be heard in the spring.

The skirmish began in 1996, when one of the country's largest mushroom producers, United Foods, refused to pay its $8,000 monthly tab from the Department of Agriculture for generic, industry-wide advertisements.

The Justice Department, backed by many mushroom purveyors, took United Foods to court. Although the government won the initial trial, an appeals court judge reversed the decision, agreeing with United Foods that compulsory advertising payments were unconstitutional--at least in agricultural industries that are not heavily regulated, such as mushrooms.

Among other complaints, the company argued that the requirement violated the First Amendment by forcing speech and thwarted its efforts to differentiate its mushrooms from those of its rivals.

The Department of Agriculture manages mandatory advertising programs for many such commodities, including honey, milk, and beef. The Supreme Court's decision could affect all of these programs. The court several years ago supported the government's right to require advertising fees in the heavily regulated California peach, plum, and nectarine industries. The Supremes' decision to revisit the issue suggests that they may wish to clarify their original ruling.

Together, mushroom merchants pay about $1.5 million a year to advertise their product. One industry insider who supports collective advertising--because, he says, "it works"--gets philosophical when asked about United Foods' position. "Some people just want to control their own destinies," he says incredulously.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Reason Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Rimensnyder, Sara
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Previous Article:Midnight Scramblers.
Next Article:Laura Howard.

Related Articles
Was it something we said? The government's defensive reply to TEI's amicus brief in Mead strikes a nerve.
Design competition winner The Wire reflects both strengths and weaknesses of tabloid format.
Generating interest in the ASMC Korea Chapter. (Chapter Idea Interchange).
Information for authors.
Kafka: when the self talks to the self about the self.
Super shrooms.
Studying shrooms: psilocybin and spirituality.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters