Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Raising Support Prices for Butterfat and Manufacturing Milk.
I HAVE TODAY signed S. 2917, setting minimum price supports until March 31, 1961 for butterfat and milk for manufacturing purposes. The price of fluid milk, not subject to price support legislation, is not dealt with in the bill.
In 1954, the Congress turned away from rigid price supports and authorized the administrative determination of price support levels, within a stated range, so that agricultural production could be brought into line with demand. S. 9917 elevates minimum support prices for butterfat and manufacturing milk above present support levels and, if continued in effect beyond its termination date, could pose the threat of a return to the disastrous dairy surplus situation of only a few years ago.
The bill would have little practical effect, however, for present prices in the market place for butterfat and manufacturing milk are, depending on the item, above, at or only slightly below the minimum prices that S. 9917 would establish. Moreover, the bill by its own terms will expire on March 31st of the new year.
The bill, therefore, can do little, if anything, to benefit the dairy farmer and, even more important, will do him little harm. Nor should it add materially to the cost of the federal Government's dairy product price support programs or have a significant effect, if any at all, on the prices of dairy products to consumers.
For these reasons, and because I am mindful that the Congress-which passed the bill overwhelmingly--has by its adjournment no opportunity to attempt to override a veto, I concluded that the bill could and should be signed. These reasons seem to me the more compelling because this is an election year. Had the bill been presented to me under different circumstances, however, I doubtless would have withheld my approval because the bill on its face violates long established and well-known policies of this Administration. But because its practical effects are negligible-and hence the violations more theoretical than real--I believe it my duty this year to avoid so far as possible any action on my part that would only serve to engender intensely partisan political charges and countercharges in the dairy regions.
Early next year the new administration will be confronted with this problem, but it will then be very real, for any extension of S. 2917 would pose the serious threat I have described. At that time, however, the matter can be discussed and resolved in an atmosphere free of election year politics. In that regard, I wish it to be perfectly clear that for my part I shall continue to support the policy that agricultural production must eventually be controlled by economic law rather than by political maneuvering. Until this has happened, there can be no settlement of the so-called "farm problem" and no sound prosperity for the family-size farm.
Note: As enacted, S. 2917 is Public Law 86-799 (74 Stat. 1054).
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Raising Support Prices for Butterfat and Manufacturing Milk. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235351