Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Common Interest

If you go to: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html today’s (July 21, 2009) testimony will be found. You can also look for testimony from July 14, 2009 and next Tuesday will be yet another hearing on dairy.

Looking at the testimonies thus far, one obvious point stands out: dairy farmers will never agree. Fundamentally, dairy farmers cannot agree. The interest of the small hill farmer in the Northeast is not the same as the large farmer in the Southwest.

From the time of the Reagan presidency, milk policy has, by and large, served the interest of those riding the gravy train. The complicated system is designed, in part, to stymie discussion.

There is clearly a public interest in milk. In an early (1934) Supreme Court case “Nebbia v. New York” Justice Owen J. Roberts, writing for the majority said:

“Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.”

There is a “common interest” in milk and therefore dairy policy. There is not likely to be much discussion of “common interest” in these hearings and that, I submit, is a massive failure.

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