There’s a milk surplus in Western Pennsylvania. And we’re not alone. It’s a nationwide problem. Though there are many, many moving parts in the equation, it is not overly simplistic to lay the blame squarely at the front stoop of market perversion.
Think of the milk lobby that continually secures government propping up. Think of compliant elected officials perennially vowing to “save” the dairy industry – from itself.
The simple fact of the matter is that too much milk has been produced for too long. Milk routinely is being dumped on dairy farms. Government cheese stocks, purchased to “help” the industry, are at their highest levels in 33 years (800 million pounds); butter reserves – now 272 million pounds – are at their highest levels in 23 years.
Yet herd sizes seem to keep increasing. The number of dairy cows – 9.4 million as of March – represent a 20-year high, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports
Market Watch reports that “U.S. dairy farmers’ big bet on global demand for milk is souring.”
But even then, there’s a mindset in the industry and among far too many lawmakers that is antithetical to sound economics. To wit, this, from a June 15 Tribune-Review story:
“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman Mark O’Neill said the entire country, not just Pennsylvania, has experienced a milk surplus over the last two years. That oversupply drives prices down, which causes farmers to increase production.”
Come again? So, there’s too much milk. That depresses prices. So farmers flood the market with even more milk?
It is, of course, the product of more than a century of federal price supports/controls and marketing restrictions – federal and state –that just keep snowballing.
And until real marketplace principles are returned to the dairy industry, this mess will continue.
The Associated Press reports that $39 commercial flights between John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport and Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport will bow on July 17.
Rising gate fees at Dulles International Airport – that would make the flights “too expensive” — necessitated the change, officials at the Murtha airport said. The switch will cut $20 from each ticket.
There is, however, more to this story.
Do remember that flights out of Murtha, 60-odd miles east of Pittsburgh, are federally subsidized almost entirely by the federal Essential Air Services (EAS) program, as The Washington Examiner reminded in a March story.
Then, reporter Philip Wegmann booked a roundtrip flight from Dulles to Murtha and paid just under $150. But, he noted, the additional average taxpayer subsidy for each flight into and out of Murtha is $266.
“Considering that I was the only passenger” on the nine-seat turbo-prop, “my own subsidy probably was higher,” Wegmann wrote.
The Trump administration’s first budget seeks to defund the $175 million EAS program as fiscally irresponsible. No kidding.
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development took out a full page ad in the Post-Gazette on June 16 to tout a “transformed, balanced and future-focused” Pittsburgh.
The main headline: “The Pittsburgh Story.” The secondary headline: “Three Primary Points.”
The first point was to “Build a balanced, knowledge-intensive economy.” There’s a reference to “balance(ing) our economy to GDP” in “5 key sectors” and “$3 billion annual funding to government, corporate and academic R&D.”
There’s also a reference to the city having the “third-highest proportion for young people with bachelor’s degrees or higher among 15 benchmark cities.”
But there was no mention of Pittsburgh’s abysmal public school system that redefines the word “disaster.”
The second point was to “Create a valuable energy portfolio.” There’s a reference to “$1 billion annual funding to energy R&D.” There’s also a reference to nearly 300 “LEED certified projects.” But that program long has been suspect for it gross economic inefficiencies and its “environmental” charlatanism.
And there’s a reference to “Marcellus Shale is the world’s 2nd largest natural gas play.” But what role did the conference and/or city officials really have in its creation? Nature did that millions of years ago. And if anything, the tapping of this incredible natural phenomenon comes despite the central planners, government regulators and envirocrats.
The third point cited in the Allegheny Conference ad was to “Invest in quality-of-life improvements.” Among those improvements cited – the city’s cultural institutions and Pittsburgh’s listing by an Internet website as the “#1 food city.” Another is a bike trail to Washington, D.C.
“We’re collaborating to create an economy that’s neither old nor new, but uniquely ours and a place that continues to evolve to become the best it can be for everyone who lives, works and visits here.”
How about, instead, collaborating to fix Pittsburgh’s lousy schools, solving a chronic public pension problem, saving a water system on the verge of collapse and lowering higher and higher barriers to economic development?
Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (firstname.lastname@example.org).