Karen Kwiatkowski: Put an End to Farming’s ‘Nanny State’

The Daily reported March 15 on a free-market policy debate emerging among dairy farmers across the country and mentioned the newly formed National Dairy Producers Organization.

The NDPO was created by dairy farmers in just the last six months, and it seems to represent free market-based dairy interests. It may ultimately serve as an alternative to the more established National Milk Producers Federation, which has been around since 1916.

Dairy producers face supply and demand volatility, and for decades, the federal government through the USDA has propped up dairy prices by buying excess production. For all the friendly jokes in the 1970s and 1980s about “government cheese” and the entertaining ‘Got Milk’ commercials, which are in part funded by the government, mountains of stockpiled cheese and tax-funded milk mustaches are part and parcel of American socialism.

Socialism in the dairy business works about as well as it works anywhere else. By mistaking government-dictated and -supported prices for real market signals, overproduction (and hence over-investment in and over-leveraging of production facilities) results. Periodically and predictably, the booms are followed by severe busts, at great cost to farmers, dairy consumers and taxpayers.

The private proposals — which would replace government purchase of excess dairy production with cooperative agreements on production, with voluntary reductions in production to match projected and real market demand — are geared to maintain dairy prices that allow farmers to stay in the business.

Sure, it sounds a bit like OPEC, but it places control in the hands of producers, in response to honest market signals, and that’s got to be better than what we have now.
We might pay more for milk, as consumers, but currently we never count what we already pay in taxes to support USDA entrenched socialism. To quote 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat, Americans are increasingly beginning to understand what is seen, as well as what is unseen.

To find out more, the www.futurefordairy.com is a good place to start, as is the www.nationaldairyproducers.org.

At heart are two fundamental questions: 1) How much should the government be involved in setting prices and managing supply, and 2) Can dairymen survive and thrive without the agricultural nanny state?

In this day and age, the short answers to these questions are “none” and “of course.”
We can increasingly expect these types of questions to be asked for all areas of U.S. government subsidies. Instead of being frightened of a glimpse of independence from government in the dairy industry, we should welcome the change, commend the creativity, celebrate the economic liberty … and drink more milk.

Kwiatkowski is a farmer at Mt. Jackson, former Libertarian Candidate and Activist.

4 thoughts on “Karen Kwiatkowski: Put an End to Farming’s ‘Nanny State’

  1. Michael H. Wilson

    good piece and here’s a book that might be of interest since the author lives in the Virginia area.

    “EVERYTHING I WANT TO DO IS ILLEGAL: War Stories from the Local Food Front” by Joel Salatin

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