David Frum

05.15.13

Down With the Soviet-Style Dairy Program

I agree with John Boehner: the dairy program in the farm bill is "Soviet-style." Therefore, it's a huge disappointment that a bipartisan effort to streamline the program just failed in the House of Representatives:

An amendment to gut the dairy program sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) was defeated on a 20 to 26 vote. ...

Goodlatte argued that dairy should have access to margin insurance without a requirement that farmers participate in a program to limit production. He cited the opposition of House GOP leaders to the dairy program as being a reason the farm bill effort failed last year and an extension of the 2008 farm bill was needed.

With much love for the fine folk who work in the dairy industry, you're all basically a bunch of communists. Seriously, read this paragraph from a letter the dairy lobby sent to Congress:

The economic conditions that led to the development of the DSA after the dairy depression in 2009 – low milk prices and high feed costs generating terrible margins – were experienced again by America’s dairy farmers last year, when feed costs soared to record levels as milk prices dropped. It is precisely this type of low-margin scenario that the DSA was designed to help farmers weather. We need a financially-sound risk management program to help farmers better manage margin volatility.

Perhaps you do need such a program, but there's no compelling reason the taxpayers should be the ones paying for it. Margins fluctuate in every market, and there's no reason for farmers to be treated as a special case. As it is, these milk men are basically enjoying guaranteed profit margins.

That is insane, and it must end. Defeat the Soviet-style Dairy Lobby.