The failure of Congress to pass a new five-year farm bill will almost certainly lead to skyrocketing dairy prices in the New Year, farm advocacy groups are predicting.
The reason behind these price increases lie with the last permanent farm legislation, passed by Congress in the late 1940s. This legislation is modeled on outdated price structures, and would double the guaranteed minimum prices for dairy farmers, leaving retailers with higher costs to pass on to consumers.
The reason this permanent legislation is kept in place is largely to force Congress into action on the farm bill. If policy were to revert to this outdated legislation, it could cause havoc in the farm sector as production limits and price control mechanism from nearly 70 years ago come back into effect.
This specter, however, has not prodded Congress into action. According to ranking House Agriculture Committee member Collin Peterson, Congress will likely not be able to consider new farm legislation before February of next year. He also stated, “The uncertainty of not knowing what the policies are going to be will create difficulties.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner also hinted that passing a farm bill in a separate vote in the waning days of the current Congress is unlikely. According to an aide for Boehner, “We can’t drop a Farm Bill in the middle of whatever is negotiated. A 1,000-page bill on top of whatever is negotiated will just make our vote situation harder.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer