All Commentary
Thursday, March 1, 1962

Who Fixes Milk Prices Anyway

Editorial from the Times Bulletin, Van Wert, Ohio, August 8, 1961.

Antitrust officials of the Jus­tice Department are in Chicago, seeking to learn whether there is price-fixing in the milk supply of the city. There certainly is, as they could have found out before leaving Washington.

Whether Chicago‘s dairies are fixing retail prices will not be learned for some time. But the federal government, through the Department of Agriculture, ad­ministers farmers’ price-fixing ar­rangements covering Chicago and 79 other areas all over the coun­try.

The government’s labor laws al­so have made it possible for two dairy unions to fix the price of la­bor that all Chicago dairies must pay. Currently, these unions are negotiating for more wages and benefits, seem certain to get them, and will contribute to the rising price of dairy products.

Whole milk and labor are the chief costs in the price of dairy products. There seems to be little the dairy owners can do about prices with their principal costs price-fixed by others with federal sanction.

If they are fixing prices within such discretionary limits as are still open to them, they are as­sured of convictions and fines and perhaps will receive sentences.

But the farmers’ and the dairy workers’ larger activities in price-fixing will continue.

Indeed, the individual farmer or dairy worker is forced to enter price-fixing arrangements, or be penalized.

The effect on the public of price-fixing is the same, no matter who does the fixing.