Millions of Dollars Spent on Gov’t ‘National Mango Board’

Federal board promotes consumption of the tropical fruit…

mangoes photo

Photo by robnguyen01 (CC)

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) It could be that the reason so many Americans think the federal government wastes a lot of money is that the federal government spends a lot of money in ways most people would consider wasteful.

Witness the National Mango Board.

Yes, a federal board to promote mango consumption (and do some research into mango-related topics).

Judicial Watch, usually known as a public corruption watchdog, highlighted this board in a January 9 report as an example of government largesse that is “unlikely to [represent] a pressing issue for most Americans.”

Nothing against mangoes, but most people might wonder why a federal agency – in this case, the Department of Agriculture – needs to be promoting any particular type of produce for domestic consumption.

Judicial Watch notes the Mango Board’s $6.7 million budget, highlights its production of a 38-page report on the best temperature at which to transport the perishable fruit, and informs readers that the 18-member board is appointed directly by the Secretary of Agriculture and overseen by an entity known as the Agricultural Marketing Service.

In the grand scheme of things, $6.7 million is a drop in the bucket, or mango basket, in a total federal budget of $4.1 trillion.

Further research shows it isn’t even really that much money in terms of ordinary taxpayer dollars.

The board’s budget comes not from general tax revenue, but from “assessments” on mango imports and on large-scale domestic mango producers.

In other words, the mango industry funds the National Mango Board – but of course those costs are passed on to consumers.

Federal agents do oversee the collection of the assessments, and (as noted above) the federally funded Agricultural Marketing Services do provide oversight for the Mango Board and others of similar nature.

The incremental costs for those federal services are probably small, and not readily quantifiable.

In a statement, the Mango Board Executive Director Manuel Michel said that taxpayers aren’t even on the hook for those expenses: “Our organization uses its own resources and reimburses the government for any time and money they spend in working with us.”

Still, critics like Judicial Watch imply that it’s a legitimate question to ask why this board, or others like it such as the National Honey Board, the National Peanut Board, and the National Popcorn Board, needs federal government support or oversight at all.

The “Specialty Crops Program” at the Department of Agriculture is, after all, ultimately funded by taxpayers.