Fighting for milk

State Rep. Kevin Haggerty
D-Lackawanna
www.pahouse.com/Haggerty

Our elected representatives in Washington will be tasked to regulate the price of a basic part of many Americans’ diet, milk, when they reconvene Jan. 7 to debate the Farm Bill.

A stop-gap measure was passed last week to keep milk’s price artificially depressed until the full bill is passed, but I wonder how much longer we can trust Congress to regulate a basic commodity, especially when the matter becomes intertwined with contentious bills.

Because the average American family uses two gallons of milk a week, I hope they negotiate the so-called dairy cliff better than they did the fiscal cliff and the shutdown. Those headlines dominated 2013, and we seem to be facing another one right out of the gate in 2014.

Jimmy Braddock, the depression-era ‘Cinderella Man’ of boxing fame, was heavily lauded for his fighting for food on the table, notably milk, and it seems we could use him again, some 80 years later.

Fourteen percent of Pennsylvanians live in poverty, and to put it in further perspective, if milk jumps to $8 a gallon, Pennsylvania’s 855,000 minimum-wage earners wouldn’t be able to buy a gallon after an hour of work. As an elected state representative, I find that outrageous.

We might not have Braddock, but we the people have the power to fight, and I believe we need to bring that power to Congress. The time to demand compromise and negotiations is now, not in January when the machine turns back on in D.C. and certainly not after we fall off another cliff.

This cliff would directly hurt our children, families, farmers and grocers. The consequences of not following through with a comprehensive bill are dire. Join me in demanding that our elected lawmakers heed this cliff and not kick the can down the road, as Congress regularly does when faced with tough votes.

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