American dairy farmers have grown fat and happy with a helping hand from Uncle Sam. Federal price supports and commodity-buying programs, combined with regional milk cartels that are allowed to conspire to keep prices high, have kept them in high clover, insulated from market forces and competition, while consumers and taxpayers get milked dry.
So forgive me if I don't weep over the hardships recession has brought dairymen, as detailed in today's New York Times. If one reads the story carefully, one learns that the market-distorting influence of government "support," even more than global economic trends, lies at the heart of the industry's current woes -- as with so much of the American Agricultural sector.
Government intervention and market manipulation, not free enterprise and free markets, created this "crisis." Now perhaps the government will step in, again, to "rescue" beleaguered dairy farmers. It's a vicious cycle, which won't be broken until we begin throwing farmers off the government milk wagon.