July 23, 2013

Anyone who thinks that laws that limit agricultural production are “relics of a long-gone era” [“Your raisins or your life,” editorial, July 19] needs to take a look at the Dairy Market Stabilization Program, included in the 2013 Senate farm bill.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who voiced disbelief last month that Congress would enable artificially higher prices, may be surprised to learn that the bill includes a new program that is designed to make dairy products, including milk and cheese, less affordable for millions of families.

Just as with the raisin program, the dairy stabilization program would periodically impose quotas on the amount of milk that a farmer can sell, forcing him to reduce production or to turn over the revenue from excess supply to the government. Program supporters estimate the reduced supply could result in the price of a gallon of milk spiking by as much as 35 cents.

Fortunately, the House rejected this program when it approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) by a vote of 291 to 135. Proving that bipartisanship is still alive, the entire Virginia delegation agreed that higher milk prices and supply limits should be left off the table. The issue will next go to conference, where, hopefully, the Senate will accede to the House’s position.

Jerry Slominski, Washington

The writer is senior vice president for legislative affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association.