Commentary: Dairy farmers don't need a bailout

Farmers can be a hardy lot, working in tough physical conditions, battling the weather, and dealing with an increasingly volatile global economy that sends prices soaring one year and plummeting the next.

But sometimes farms are like many other big businesses, looking to control their markets and minimize risk while turning to government to protect them from competition and the business cycle.

California's massive dairy industry is in trouble. Milk prices have been low lately, and while that's good for consumers, it's not good for dairy farmers. Naturally, they want to do something about it.

But it needs to be the right approach that's fair to farmers and consumers. Threatening to collude to limit supply or, worse yet, asking the government to do it for them, are not the right approaches.

Last week, a group of California farmers started talking about dumping 2 million gallons of milk to drive up prices.

Another plan in the works has the government fining farms that expand more rapidly than the industry leaders deem appropriate, say 2% to 3% a year, and giving that money to farmers who agree to limit their production.

So far both of these approaches seem unlikely to happen. But it's interesting to us that agricultural interests want government to keep its nose out of their business – until they need a bailout.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.