Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Economics Driving Dairy Herd Health Measure

A few ramblings since I haven't blogged in a while. This story came through my inbox this morning. Apparently high somatic cell counts in milk are not a food safety issue. But placing this sort of regulation on the industry would have the anticipated effect of removing supply from the market and driving up prices, while improving herd health. I wonder if consumers are as excited about this change as some dairy producers.

In the crop production sector, I often ask my students if the Conservation Reserve Program was politically possible because of the anticipated (though perhaps unrealized) effect it could have on commodity prices. Again, I wonder if consumers were on board with this.

Dean Chen's American Ideology comes to mind. It is a testament to what I tend to think of as consumerism and its role in technological advance as it relates to feeding more people at lower costs--a call to arms of sorts. But I wonder which way consumerism cuts. What they want is perhaps different from what they should want. Or, maybe, consumerism works to bring food safety and affordability concerns to producers, but maybe it doesn't bring herd health and environmental concerns to bear as well. Of course, if there is a correlation between such concerns, then consumerism does many things well. But the elephant in the room is always, I suspect, what they'll pay for and what they won't.


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