Dairy farmers were the object lesson in a portion of President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night devoted to government regulation.

“We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill, because milk was somehow classified as an oil,” Obama said. “With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. (To hear audience response to his "crying over spilled milk" joke, listen to the audio above.)

‘I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago,” he said.

Early last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that oil-spill regulations dating back to the 1970s would not apply to bulk milk tanks. Milk had initially been included because of the butterfat it contains.  

The spilled milk issue was one of several “fictions” about EPA’s intentions that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson outlined at a House Agriculture Committee hearing last year.

Also see “Reaction to Obama’s milk comment udderly amazing.”