The participating states find and declare that the dairy industry is an essential agricultural activity of the South. Dairy farms, and associated suppliers, marketers, processors, and retailers, are an integral component of the region’s economy. Their ability to provide a stable, local supply of pure, wholesome milk is a matter of great importance to the health and welfare of the region.
The participating states further find that dairy farms are essential and they are an integral part of the region’s rural communities. The farms preserve land for agricultural purposes and provide needed economic stimuli for rural communities.
By entering into this compact, the participating states affirm that their ability to regulate the price which southern dairy farmers receive for their product is essential to the public interest. Assurance of a fair and equitable price for dairy farmers ensures their ability to provide milk to the market and the vitality of the southern dairy industry, with all the associated benefits.
Recent dramatic price fluctuations, with a pronounced downward trend, threaten the viability and stability of the southern dairy region. Historically, individual state regulatory action had been an effective emergency remedy available to farmers confronting a distressed market. The federal order system, implemented by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, establishes only minimum prices paid to producers for raw milk, without preempting the power of states to regulate milk prices above the minimum levels so established.
In today’s regional dairy marketplace, cooperative, rather than individual state action, is needed to more effectively address the market disarray. Under our constitutional system, properly authorized states acting cooperatively may exercise more power to regulate interstate commerce than they may assert individually without such authority. For this reason, the participating states invoke their authority to act in common agreement, with the consent of Congress, under the compact clause of the Constitution.
In establishing their constitutional regulatory authority over the region’s fluid milk market by this compact, the participating states declare their purpose that this compact neither displace the federal order system nor encourage the merging of federal orders. Specific provisions of the compact itself set forth this basic principle.
Designed as a flexible mechanism able to adjust to changes in a regulated marketplace, the compact also contains a contingency provision should the federal order system be discontinued. In that event, the interstate commission is authorized to regulate the marketplace in replacement of the order system. This contingent authority does not anticipate such a change, however, and should not be so construed. It is only provided should developments in the market other than establishment of this compact result in discontinuance of the order system.