Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dairy Farms? No Thanks, I'll take tract housing

Connecticut gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano has a plan for Connecticut Dairy farmers. You can click on the link, but in essence, he doesn't think they are getting enough money, so he wants to give them $5 million of state funds, have some sort of summit, have an insurance fund for dairy farmers, and put into place some more price supports and subsidies.

My question is, why should the Connecticut government try to keep these dairy farms open when they obviously are uncompetitive with dairy farms in other states, which have less rain, cheaper electricity, and a lot cheaper land?

If milk is too cheap (and it's a heck of a lot more than gasoline per gallon), why don't these farmers close up shop, sell their equipment, and sell their land and do something else, or even retire?

Someone else could then buy the land who could put it to better use than trying to lobby the state and federal government for subisidies because what they produce can't be produced profitably.

Connecticut has very expensive land, so this land might be suitable to build new houses. Perhaps instead of subsidizing farmers, and then having to form committees to determine why housing is so expensive, we could just eliminate the subsidies to farmers, and then if they couldn't survive, they'd sell their land and the land could be put to more productive use.

Now, you might say that this would cause all Connecticut dairy farms to go under. Well, that doesn't mean we wouldn't have milk in the grocery store. We have orange juice but there are no orange trees in the state. This is because we have highways and railroads, which cross the state line and keep going to where these things come from. Apparently they can even bring milk in on refrigerated trucks.

Some of the dairy farms would probably survive: they'd be competitive enough (they might not be as cheap as Wisconsin, but after adding in transportation costs, they could probably compete).

Believe me, if the government doesn't provide price supports, milk is still going to get produced and pasteurized and distributed. We don't need governments trying to keep dairy farms in business when they cannot compete. Especially in a state where developable land is a scarce commodity.

1 comment:

Tom Andersen said...

It's perfectly legitimate for the government to subsidize an economic activity or land use that the people of the state think is worthwhile. I haven't taken a poll but my guess is that the rural character of Connecticut is something residents value and do not want to see lost. And in any case, the government already subsidizes tract housing, by allowing homeowners to deduct their mortgage interest on their income tax.