Another Bad Idea

The family farmer is an American icon rooted in the, dare I say it, English yeoman farmer who founded America. But we are at a point where farming is no longer a way of life. It is a means of commodity production and that production can be done cheaper and more efficiently by large, and usually corporate, operations.

This is the dilemma faced by Maryland’s dairy farmers and they don’t much like it. Can’t say that I can blame them. But having said that I’m not sure that I should pay to keep them in that particular occupation or lifestyle.

Dairy farmers who crafting a plan for a state commission to regulate milk
product prices are meeting resistance from the state’s three milk processors.

The farmers, including many in Frederick County, want a state board to set the price processors pay for milk products to help Maryland’s declining dairy industry remains competitive with those in neighboring states. The farmers’ plan was to
pitch the idea to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in October, but processors are protesting the price controls, saying it would increase retail prices for consumers.

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The Cato Institute has written extensively on how agricultural subsidies are a truly bad idea. I’m not much of a libertarian but I agree with their analysis on this point. If anyone really wants to understand how ag subsidies hurt everyone I’d recommend they read a book by the eminent economist P.J. O’Rourke called A Parliament of Whores.

While we all have been conscious of the plight of the American farmer since Willy Nelson started his Farm-Aid concerts it doesn’t nean we should pay farmers to stay in business.

Government intervention in the marketplace distorts the economy. That is bad. When the intervention is brought on by a desire to choose winners and losers that is bad, too. When it is brought about by an emotional appeal to do-gooderism that is a tragedy.

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