The effectiveness in American politics of what is euphemistically termed "contributing" has been demonstrated by the US dairy industry lobby, which won concessions in the recently passed Farm Bill after spending almost US$400,000 on lobbying in the second half of 2001.

The final legislation did not contain a proposed ban on the market sale of sick livestock, which was struck down by a House of Representatives-Senate committee, following opposition from the dairy sector. Many of these animals are former dairy cows.

Legislators also approved a new national price support system for the industry. By coincidence, the Dairy Farmers of America's political action committee paid money to 15 of the 16 members of the committee facing election in this year's mid-term poll.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent